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The importance of the reporting of occupational diseases

Both the federal government and the State of New Jersey strive to prevent occupational diseases among their workers in the labor force. An occupational disease can result from an exposure to an element, such as a gas, chemical, noise or heavy metals that occurs in the workplace, which causes or furthers a condition or worsens a preexisting condition.

The New Jersey Department of Health Occupational Health Surveillance Unit employs strategies and working solutions to reduce hazards in New Jersey workplaces. When a worker suffers an occupational disease, because it may retain the necessary work-related connection, he or she may find redress under New Jersey’s Workers Compensation laws. It is important that proper reporting of the illness and other details occur in order to promote future safety and to provide possible benefits to the injured worker under the state laws.

Many work-related conditions that affect New Jersey workers and cause disease are required to be reported, such as work-related asthma, heavy metal poisonings, occupational dermatitis, silicosis and asbestosis, among others. There are many professionals that must report blood and urine test results with concerning levels of various heavy metals to the New Jersey Department of Health. These mandatory reporters include the doctors, but also include some advanced level nurses and other advanced medical professionals. It is also important for the medical provider to take and report an accurate history of symptoms and apparent work exposure in order that the occupational origin of the disease not be overlooked.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration works on the federal level to prevent occupational illness. Federally, OSHA has also implemented a program to help states and employers better recognize and decrease toxic exposures within the primary metal industries, and to help employers address other causes of occupational diseases, such as harmful chemical and physical health hazards.

Both the state and federal programs designed to address, reduce and even eliminate occupational diseases depend on timely and accurate reporting of medical and work-related factors.

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