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The Difficulties of Occupational Asthma and Worker\’s Compensation


Occupational asthma is the problem afflicting Minnesota workers that you aren\’t hearing about. Why not? Because most people don\’t realize their job caused their asthma and they are paying for it on their own.

Unfortunately, for those that do make the connection between their occupation and its role in causing asthma, getting worker\’s compensation to cover the illness can be difficult. Considering medication and inhalers can be a significant expense, this can be a serious strain on the Minnesota worker without the help that worker\’s compensation can provide.

Who Is At Risk For Occupational Asthma?

If you have been diagnosed with asthma and believe your workplace may be the cause, there is a good chance you may be right. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes that there are over 250 substances in which can cause asthma with regular exposure. This means that a wide number of industries have their employees at risk. However, because many don\’t think of asthma as an occupational diseases, they don\’t file worker\’s compensation claims. Those with the biggest risk of occupational asthma include those regularly exposed to:

  • Paint
  • Sawdust or any dust
  • Cleaning products
  • Mold
  • Animals
  • Flour or any other grains
  • Latex
  • Manufacturing components

Long-term exposure to any of the above and many more common workplace irritants can cause wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. Eventually, the symptoms of asthma, even with treatment, can become so severe that you can no longer work a job you may have had for 20+ years. Some work-related lung conditions can lead to total disability or even death.

Worker\’s Compensation for Occupational Asthma

The unfortunate reality is that often workers seeking worker\’s compensation for occupational asthma are burdened with the difficult task of proving that their job was responsible for the development of their asthma.

Consider this example that is riddled with difficulty: You work as a a woodworker. You run the table saw, which means you are exposed to regular large amounts of sawdust on a daily basis. Your workplace recommends you wear a mask, but it makes it difficult to breath, so you don\’t wear it. You also smoke regularly and own several domestic animals.

The issue with the example is that your smoking and animal ownership can both cause asthma to develop later in life. However, the sawdust can contribute to that as well. Unfortunately, if you didn\’t take advantage of exposure prevention measures offered by your employment, it can hurt your claim as well. While there is no question that the sawdust contributed to it, claims adjusters may argue that other factors caused the asthma.

However, if your claim, like the above example, is denied,  it doesn\’t have to be the end of your worker\’s compensation claim. You will need to work with your worker\’s compensation lawyer to prove that your employment significantly contributed to the development of your asthma. It will be a complicated road ahead, but not altogether an impossible one.

Need Help? Contact A Mankato Work Comp Attorney!

Are you a Minnesota worker that has developed asthma and believe that your job may be responsible for it? There are a number of different substances that can cause asthma to develop, and chances are that if you work with a documented one, you can receive worker\’s compensation for this occupational illness.  Contact us today to see what Harvey & Carpenter can do to help you get the appropriate compensation for your occupational asthma.

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