Thousands of workers in New Jersey and around the country develop work-related illnesses each year, and it is often substances in the air that makes them sick. Crystalline silica and asbestos are known workplace dangers that have been linked to several deadly diseases, but even dust can cause long-term health problems if it is inhaled in large quantities over a long period. This is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration takes respiratory protection very seriously.
Particles and vapors
Breathing particles deep into the lungs can lead to the development of pulmonary scar tissue known as pleural thickening. This is a progressive and incurable condition that causes breathing problems and chest pain. Solvent vapors are another airborne danger. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about one in 10 workers around the world are exposed to hazardous fumes from paints, solvents or adhesives on a regular basis. These substances can cause nausea, dizziness, headaches and make breathing difficult, but the effects are usually temporary.
Low oxygen levels
Workplace-related respiratory problems are sometimes caused by a lack of oxygen rather than the presence of toxic particles or gasses. Employers should provide ventilation equipment and check oxygen levels regularly when work is being done in confined spaces as hypoxia can be deadly and its early symptoms are easy to overlook.
Workers’ compensation appeals
Workers’ compensation applications filed by workers who developed a job-related illness are sometimes challenged by employers worried about the impact that a rush of similar claims would have on their insurance premiums. Attorneys with experience in this area could ensure that workers’ compensation claims paperwork is completed properly, submitted promptly and supported by relevant medical evidence, and they could also argue on behalf of clients during appeals hearings if their claims are rejected.