Too many workers here in Georgia and around the country develop lung damage due to the conditions in which they work. Much of the damage is preventable if proper precautions are taken. However, not all employers take these precautions to protect their employees.
Obviously, jobs like coal mining and firefighting expose workers to contaminants and chemicals that can cause lung disease. We’re going to discuss some of the other occupations in which workers are most likely to develop lung damage or lung-related diseases.
— Manufacturing: People who work in factories can inhale everything from sand to metals to chemicals that can cause lung damage. They can also cause or exacerbate asthma.
— Construction: When workers tear down or remodel buildings, they can be exposed to asbestos. This can cause mesothelioma or asbestosis.
— Housekeeping: Many cleaning products, even so-called “natural” ones, contain harmful chemicals that can lead to allergic reactions, asthma and chronic respiratory problems.
— Body shop work: People who work with spray paint are often exposed to isocyanates. These chemicals can cause asthma.
— Waitressing/bartending: Regulations against smoking indoors have increased greatly in recent decades. However, there are still some locations such as casinos where it is allowed. This can cause problems for people who work in these locations.
— Hair styling: Anyone who’s stepped into a hair salon has smelled the chemical agents used there. Hair coloring agents can cause asthma. Some straightening products still contain the carcinogen formaldehyde, which can irritate lungs as well as the throat, nose and eyes.
— Health care: Medical professionals are not likely to be subjected to the kind of contaminants that people in these other professions are. However, they may be around people with lung diseases such as tuberculosis and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Latex gloves and other medical supplies can also cause asthma.
There are precautions that employers and employees alike can take to help minimize lung problems. Safer alternatives to hazardous products can often be used. Improved ventilation usually helps. So do protective equipment, latex-free products and in some cases respirators.
If someone develops a lung disease or other medical condition due to his or her working conditions, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide guidance to help you determine the best course of action to help you ensure that you are able to support yourself and your family while you get the medical treatment you need.
Source: WebMD, “10 Risky Jobs for Your Lungs,” Pamela Babcock, accessed Aug. 27, 2015
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