Your workplace can sometimes be a dangerous place for your health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,333 recorded cases of workplace injuries in the U.S. in 2019.
For instance, waste management, construction, roofing, aviation, logging, hunting, and fishing industries have higher-than-average workplace incidents that can cause death.
What’s more, the transportation industry accounts for the largest on-the-job death count at 2,100, including death resulting from slips, falls, exposure to harmful chemicals & materials, explosions, and fires.
That said, occupational illnesses can result from various reasons, including psychological, physical, chemical, and biological factors usually encountered during a worker’s course of employment.
While company owners believe addressing occupational hazards isn’t viable from a business perspective, the advantages outweigh the underlying costs. Safety at the workplace improves workplace efficiency, boosts employee morale, and leads to a healthy relationship between employees and employers.
Since occupational illnesses are common in most professions, let’s look at a few things every worker should know about occupational diseases.
Types of Occupational Illnesses.
Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma. In fact, according to research, eight out of ten people were diagnosed with this terminal disease due to asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma results from breathing in asbestos particles, as they’re deposited in your chest cavity. On the other hand, if swallowed, these cancerous particles can also be deposited in your stomach’s lining, causing peritoneal mesothelioma.
Since mesothelioma is terminal, some patients who undergo surgery, chemo, or radiotherapy manage to prolong their lives. For more information, support, and guidance regarding the disease, there are websites like mesotheliomahope.com and dedicated support groups throughout the U.S.
Lead poisoning is a massive risk for individuals exposed to lead for extended periods. Some industries that utilize lead include plumbing, patin stripping, pottery glazing, lead smelting, and shipbuilding, to name a few.
The inhalation of lead particles and dust can also lead to severe health problems such as brain damage, kidney disease, and infertility. That said, workers exposed to lead can go years without any symptoms showing up.
Typically these include stomach pain, memory loss, weight loss, nausea, or a combination of the above.
Computer Vision Syndrome.
Working a nine-to-five desk job has its own set of risks. Although you’ll have little to no chance of developing lung or skin disease, spending long periods staring at a PC will cause various eye problems.
So, if you’re experiencing dry eyes, blurred vision, muscle aches, headaches, or eye strain while working in front of a computer, you might be suffering from computer vision syndrome.
Other Infectious diseases.
According to the NIOSH, individuals working in the healthcare and sanitary industries are at a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV( human immunodeficiency virus), tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B and C.
Also, note that tuberculosis is also a significant health risk for individuals working in correctional facilities and social services due to the high-contact nature of the jobs.
What rights do you have as an employee?
According to OSHA, workers are entitled by law to have a safe workplace environment, and it should offer safety measures that include;
- Safety equipment like lifelines for falls, harnesses, gloves, etc
- Protection from toxic chemicals
- A platform to report injuries and workplace hazards
- Routine Osha inspections
- Health and safety training
Furthermore, workers are also entitled to file complaints about unsafe working conditions, so specific agencies and organizations set safety standards, investigate risk within the workplace, and develop guidelines depending on your job.
For instance, if you work in the mining industry, the MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) is responsible for setting standards to prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths from mining, while promoting safe working conditions for miners.
A few workplace safety tips.
Have you ever wondered if your workplace is safe? Since workplace safety standards depend upon the nature of your work, there are a few health and safety measures every worker must follow to remain safe.
- Taking breaks between shifts
- Knowing and following all emergency procedures during natural disasters
- Not operating equipment or machinery without proper training
- Dressing appropriately for work, including wearing PPE when required
If you think your workplace isn’t safe, let your employer know about it. If they aren’t responding to your concerns, hire an attorney to take legal action. In the end, never take chances as far as your safety is concerned.
Workplace safety should be a vital part of an institutional development program that touches every profession. In fact, business owners should inform and educate their employees regarding health & safety protocols through training and enforce rules that guarantee their safety.