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Top Five Occupational Diseases Among Construction Workers

October 28, 2021

Falls and other trauma injuries grab most of the headlines when it comes to construction accidents. However, occupational diseases constitute most of the construction site injuries in Los Angeles. An occupational disease is a condition which arises over the course of more than one work shift.

The construction industry in California is extremely competitive. So, most construction, renovation, and demolition companies have very thin profit margins. A few dollars could be the difference between losing money and making money on a particular project. When these companies try to reduce costs, worker safety is frequently one of the first items on the chopping block.

Workers’ compensation protects most of these victims. This employer-provided, no-fault insurance usually covers economic losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages. But this state-run system does not apply to all construction injuries. In some cases, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney may be able to file an independent legal action and obtain additional compensation for these victims.

Asthma

The air at most construction sites contains a thick blanket of dust and other particulate matter. All the ongoing activity at this site kicks up even more dust and particulate matter. As a result, asthma is one of the most common construction-related occupational diseases. 

Normally, asthma is not life-threatening or even terribly serious. However, it is partially disabling. Activities which were previously fun are suddenly off-limits. Instead, each day becomes a matter of avoiding stress and watching the clock, in order to take the next round of medicine.

This disability is especially severe if the victim has a pre-existing condition. If that’s the case, asthma can easily morph into COPD. More on that below.

Cancer

Renovation workers are especially at risk for toxic exposure cancer. Until the 1980s, builders frequently used asbestos to fireproof and insulate structures. A single microscopic asbestos fiber can cause mesothelioma, a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.

This disease’s survival rate has improved significantly over the last twenty years. However, an early diagnosis is usually the key to recovery. And, doctors often misdiagnose work-related cancer. To many physicians, cancer is a lifestyle or genetic disease. Since there are no clear risk factors in a work-related cancer matter, cases are often misdiagnosed.

When a proper diagnosis comes, the traditional chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatment triumvirate might be insufficient. So, these patients are reduced to risky and often experimental procedures.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is basically enhanced asthma. Instead of clogging airways, the aforementioned particulate matter alters cellular composition and causes these airways to swell. Essentially, this swelling causes breathing passageways to lose their natural elasticity. As a result, with every breath, air is trapped in the lungs, and the body is oxygen-starved.

COPD is a serious stand-alone disease. It also greatly increases the risks for cancer, heart diseases, and some other chronic conditions which are often fatal. Depression is a common side-effect as well. COPD severely limits activity, and that’s a tough pill to swallow for active people.

Once again, pre-existing conditions, such as smoking, often contribute to COPD. Also once again, an insurance company cannot use the victim’s lifestyle choices as an excuse to reduce or deny compensation, at least in most cases.

Dermatitis

This condition, which is also called eczema, affects hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. A mixture of environmental and genetic factors usually causes dermatitis. The three most common types of dermatitis are:

  • Atopic: This form of eczema is closely related to asthma. Stress makes this condition worse. Symptoms include an itchy rash, especially on the face and scalp.
  • Contact: Atopic dermatitis has roughly the same symptoms as contact dermatitis. As a result, misdiagnosis is common. But contact dermatitis is a temporary issue usually caused by an allergy or contact with something like poison ivy. Atopic dermatitis, on the other hand, doesn’t go away by itself.
  • Seborrhoeic: This rare eczema condition is similar to dandruff. However, it is common, and treatable, among newborns.

Eczema treatments include steroids and other powerful medicines. Not everyone can tolerate these medications.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

The frequent stooping, bending, lifting, and other acts commonly associated with construction work often cause musculoskeletal disorders. Much like dermatitis, these conditions are usually incurable but often treatable. Construction accident victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim & Sharona Hakim. We routinely handle matters throughout California.

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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