An estimated 2.8 million non-fatal workplace illnesses and injuries were reported in the private sector in 2017 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although the figure has declined steadily since 2003, there remain a high number of cases that force workers to spend days away from their workplace. Work-related illnesses occur either as a result of exposure to harmful substances and organisms in the workplace, or from repetitive movements as required by work.
Work-related illnesses come at a cost both to the employer and the worker. Massachusetts Workers Compensation is in place for the protection of the employer and the worker in case the worker becomes sick while working. Workers compensation covers the medical expenses for qualified injuries and diseases. It will also cover for pain, suffering, emotional trauma, and even lost wages due to disability resulting from a workplace illness.
Industrial diseases are terminal illnesses or chronic injuries that result from exposure to harmful substances in the workplace over a long period. Workers who inhale, ingest, or touch these substances may develop one of these occupational illnesses:
- Chronic bronchitis and pneumonia
- Asthma and emphysema
- Bursitis and tendonitis
- Loss of sight and/or hearing
- Coal Miner’s or Farmer’s lung
- Mesothelioma and asbestosis
- Occupational asthma
- Poisoning and exposure to toxins
- Pleural thickening
Stress, Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD
Stress as a result of work or the work environment can affect the health and emotional well-being of workers. It usually manifests as unexplained fatigue, headaches, insomnia, muscular tension, irritability, gastrointestinal issues, and irregular heartbeat. Stress may also lead to depression, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, mood swings, and aggression. Since a certain amount of stress is expected in the workplace, the worker must be able to prove that work stress is the predominant cause of the emotional or psychiatric injury before he or she can qualify for work comp.
RSIs (Repetitive Stress Injuries)
Repetitive stress injuries often occur among workers who perform repetitive motions at work. These injuries can lead to pain, discomfort, deformity, and disabilities, and can be debilitating. One of the most common types of RSIs is carpal tunnel syndrome, which often affects those who work long hours on a computer keyboard.
What Is Not Covered by MA Workers Compensation?
Not every type of illness is covered by Massachusetts Workers Compensation. Exclusions are in place to ensure fair compensation and assistance to qualified individuals. Injuries and illnesses that occur as a direct or indirect result of intoxication of the worker, for example, are excluded. Workers comp will also reject claims for illnesses that result from self-inflicted injuries and violent behavior. Employees who start fights and become injured or ill in the process are also disqualified, along with those who use illegal, recreational, or non-prescription drugs.
Who Is Covered by MA Workers Compensation?
In general, all employees are qualified for workers compensation if they develop an illness or injury as a result of work. Dependents of workers who died on the job may also be paid compensation benefits.
Should You Call a Legal Professional?
MA work comp is a complex field that requires the expertise of a lawyer who has the right background and skills. A trained and experienced Boston workers comp lawyer can review the case and determine the best approach to ensure that the employee’s rights are upheld and protected. A solid legal representation will help you protect your rights and claim the benefits you deserve.