Six Common Long-Term Workplace Illnesses You Can Prevent: It is no secret that many of us work hard to secure a job and perform best at it. After all, a job can help us pay our bills and live our dream life.
But do you know your job can sometimes cause a detrimental effect on your physical and mental health? Each year thousands of workers file lawsuits because something terrible happened to them at their workplace, leading to long-term illness.
In addition, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO) stat, 340 million occupational accidents occur worldwide, and approximately 160 million become victims of occupational diseases worldwide.
Workplace hazards are not uncommon. No matter how much safety training or protective gear an employer offers to its workers, sometimes accidents happen. However, it is to note that some workplaces are more susceptible to occupational hazards than others.
For example, construction sites, factories, and workers in an industrial environment are more prone to workplace illnesses. Regardless of the nature of your job, learning what some common occupational diseases are and how you can avoid them can help you significantly.
The following are six common occupational diseases you should be aware of and tips to prevent them:
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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Occupational cancer usually occurs when a worker comes in contact with carcinogenic substances in their workplace.
Common examples of carcinogens include asbestos, tobacco, ultraviolet rays, etc. Employees working in construction, mining, and agricultural environments are more at risk of occupational cancer.
While there are different types of occupational cancers, the most common one is mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure primarily.
The main symptoms of mesothelioma are chest pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, etc. If you’ve experienced any symptoms or were diagnosed with this disease, it’s time to take action against your employer’s negligence and hire an experienced mesothelioma lawyer for rightful compensation.
Employers can reduce the risk of occupational cancer in workers by ensuring they use the smallest quantity of carcinogens in the workplace and offering the proper protective equipment, and educating staff.
Inhaling toxic chemicals at the workplace can cause other long-term respiratory illnesses such as occupational asthma.
You are sensitive to some gases, fumes, dust, and other irritant substances. Inhaling these dangerous gases lead to occupational asthma.
Sometimes, occupational asthma can severely damage your lungs, leading to a disability or, in severe cases, death. If you are getting frequent asthma attacks, it is advisable to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
The symptoms of workplace asthma depend on which substance you were exposed to and how long. Still, common asthma symptoms include shortness of breath, running nose, wheezing, cough, chest tightness, and eye irritation.
As an employer, you must reduce the workers’ exposure by minimizing the exposure by providing gas masks. In addition, the workers can mitigate the chances of an asthma attack by not smoking, getting vaccinated, and avoiding medications that may worsen symptoms.
Another common, widespread illness is occupational dermatitis. When a worker’s skin comes in direct contact with an irritable substance, it causes damage to skin cells. Substances that may cause dermatitis include machine oils, cement, cleaning products, acids, alkalis, etc.
Even coming in contact with water for prolonged durations can also cause this skin disease in some people. However, it is to note that the chances of developing occupational dermatitis depend on different factors such as genetic history, level of exposure, immune system, etc.
Typical dermatitis symptoms may include itchy or blistered skin, redness, swelling, burning, stinging sensation, etc.
Regular skin checkups can help you identify this illness early to get professional help. Moreover, wearing gloves and following proper skincare protocols can help you prevent occupational dermatitis.
The workplace illness common in almost every work setting, including offices, is musculoskeletal disorder. It is a condition that affects the bones, muscles, joints, nerves, and tendons.
Common causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders include lifting heavy objects, poor body posture, repetitive forced tasks, lack of physical movement, etc.
Sometimes this disorder develops over time due to high work demands and not taking adequate rest. Moreover, specific musculoskeletal diseases include arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tension neck syndrome, tendonitis, epicondylitis, etc.
The symptoms may vary depending on the type of disorder. Yet the common ones include stiffness, fatigue, muscle cramp, sleep disturbance, tenderness, swelling, etc.
You can prevent this disorder by taking frequent breaks and minimizing prolonged activities. Also, use the proper technique to lift heavy objects to eliminate the risk of developing a work-related musculoskeletal disease.
Most workers don’t even realize when they start experiencing hearing loss. One of the main reasons they don’t notice it is because hearing loss is a slow-moving occupational illness.
It usually takes several months or even years for victims to realize that their hearing ability is becoming less due to higher noise levels at their workplace.
Workers employed in manufacturing and construction industries are more at risk because they work around loud machinery. Some physical symptoms of this illness include muffled speech, feeling of fullness in the ear, difficulty hearing someone, especially with loud background noise, etc.
Although OSHA has set specific hearing conversation requirements, not every employer complies with it.
The most effective way to avoid this disease is by wearing protective equipment wherever the noise level is above 85 decibels. Moreover, a frequent hearing checkup can help identify any changes before it becomes untreatable.
Mental Health Problems
Many work-related factors often contribute to mental health issues in the workers. For example, poor management practices, hectic work schedules, unclear company goals, no job security, lack of health and safety equipment can induce mental health issues.
As a result, workers may suffer from stress or, worse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, occupational mental health problems harm your mental or psychological health and your physical health.
Due to this, your work performance is affected. The physical symptoms of mental health issues include fatigue, high blood pressure, muscular tension, lack of concentration, etc.
Maintaining a good work-life balance is the best way to prevent yourself from mental health illnesses.
While it is true that the workplace should be a safe and healthy environment yet, it isn’t always the case. Workplace hazards can considerably harm your overall health and well-being.
However, learning the common occupational diseases and how to avoid them can save you from unfortunate events. Since workplace illnesses are lethal, employers and employees must take proper measures to prevent unwanted calamities.
For instance, employers must provide proper safety equipment and training, while the employees must ensure they take advantage of the equipment supplied and follow workplace safety protocols.