Getting Workers’ Comp Benefits for Occupational Asthma


Do you suffer from asthma because of unfavorable working conditions? If so, you’re not alone as about 10 to 25 percent of American workers develop what’s known as occupational asthma, which is one of the top lung diseases linked with workplace environments. Here’s what you need to know about receiving workers’ compensation benefits from asthma caused by unhealthy working conditions.

Pediatric vs. Occupational Asthma

Pediatric asthma, which begins in infancy or childhood, is a breathing problem involving the narrowing of the airways, along with excess mucus production. As a result, breathing becomes harder, which triggers symptoms, including wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Often, symptoms improve or even go away as a child turns into a teen or adult.

Occupational asthma has the same symptoms as pediatric asthma. However, this type of asthma doesn’t begin in childhood, although some people who’ve had asthma since childhood can have symptoms that worsen because of a hazardous working environment. It develops because of unhealthy workplace conditions. In fact, in the United States, about ten to 24 percent of all adult asthma cases are linked with work.

How to Prove Asthma Is Work-Related

If you’ve been exposed to workplace irritants that have generated asthma symptoms, either presently or in the past, you may be able to get workers’ comp benefits. Consider that in some cases, asthmatic symptoms are latent. In other words, they don’t surface immediately. Surprisingly, sometimes it can take several years for symptoms of asthma to appear.

Although workers’ compensation (workers’ comp) covers occupational asthma, the challenge is proving your asthma is caused from pollutants and irritants at your workplace. One way to suspect this is the case is by noting if your asthma symptoms are more severe at work than they are at home or on your days off. For example, do you find that you cough and wheeze more at work than you do when not at work?

Occupational Asthma Triggers and Industries Most at Risk

Some of the common triggers that can result in asthma symptoms and the industries that are most at risk for occupational asthma include:

  • Vapors and chemical dusts—upholstery and foam mattresses manufacturers, people working in gas stations
  • Metal particles—Refineries and industries manufacturing metals, steelworkers, welders and construction workers
  • Animal dander, such as skin flakes from cats and dogs—veterinarian clinics, kennel and animal shelter workers and farmers
  • Sawdust and wood particles—carpenters, woodworkers and others in the construction industry
  • Black mold and other fungus—mold removal companies
  • Paint—painters and employees working in the paint industry
  • Organic dusts—bakers and other people who are employed in food processing
  • Latex—Healthcare workers

Other Considerations and Warnings

  • Be aware of your Minnesota workers’ comp benefits.
  • Even if you don’t smoke, you can still develop occupational asthma from being exposed to work-related smoke conditions. Thus, try to avoid smoke from tobacco, and if you’re a smoker, get help to kick the habit.
  • Immediately report any respiratory issues you may have at work.
  • Avoid being exposed to lung irritants and environmental allergens.

 Steps to Take When Workers’ Comp Denies a Claim

Unfortunately, every year, thousands of workers’ comp claims are denied, but this doesn’t mean it’s over, and nothing can be done. By taking certain steps, you may be able to reverse the outcome.

  • First, contact the insurer who has denied your claim.
  • Promptly consult a highly trained and experienced Minnesota workers’ comp lawyer.
  • File an appeal, being sure to do so within 30 days after you’ve received your denial letter.
  • After getting all your documents together, bring them with you to your upcoming hearings.

If you think you may be suffering from occupational asthma, see a doctor for a professional diagnosis. Next, consult our Southern Minnesota law firm, Harvey and Carpenter. You may be entitled to significant workers’ compensation benefits that can help with medical costs as well as lost wages that have kept you from going back to your job. Having 50 years of experience in helping clients settle a wide range of legal issues, we have a passion for helping people unfamiliar with our complex legal system. Besides workers’ comp cases, we also handle social security disability cases. Please contact us for a free consultation.