Work accidents involving exposure to chemicals and other substances can significantly raise the risk of developing harmful or fatal health conditions, such as mesothelioma or silicosis. In these cases, it can be unclear to workers and families as to whether they can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
To receive workers’ compensation, workers have to show their injuries occurred while on the job, and this can prove difficult for illnesses that develop over decades. For example, asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma decades later. Many of these workers will have a more difficult time receiving the workers’ compensation benefits
they need to treat their illnesses and take time off from work.
Ohio Legislation Could Give Some Workers with Occupational Illnesses Benefits
In Ohio, firefighters have discussed their high rates of cancer with the press and public. Ohio firefighters are speaking out to discuss their illnesses and how they require care to cover lost income, in addition to numerous surgeries and other treatments. Research has shown firefighters have a 40 percent higher chance of developing melanoma, a fatal skin cancer.
If Ohio recognizes cancer as an illness caused by firefighters performing the duties of their job, it will be a victory for workers who are exposed to occupational illnesses. Other professions could come forward to discuss exposure to harmful substances.
Although it is more difficult for workers with occupational illnesses to receive workers’ compensation benefits, they are not without options. Workers can also apply for disability benefits or seek third party claims
against companies who expose them to dangerous working conditions.