When most people think of injuries they occur on the job, they think of accidents or malfunctions that lead to immediate and sometimes devastating physical injuries. Workers' compensation benefits cover these injuries, which most people also know. However, did you also know that you can be compensated for illnesses that are contracted because of the conditions of your workplace? Equally important, you are protected from working around dangerous substances and conditions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration exists to protect workers from dangerous or unhealthy working conditions. It ensures that employees do not have to work around equipment that is known to be faulty or chemicals that are known to be dangerous due to improper regulations or safety measures. Constant exposure to some elements, such as asbestos, can lead to illnesses like lung cancer or mesothelioma, sometimes regardless of safety measures.
If you believe that you are working in an environment that will cause an illness, you should know that you have rights and you are protected by OSHA. You should not have to work until you are diagnosed with mesothelioma; you should be protected from this health issue before it manifests itself as a disease or illness.
In the event that you notice a health hazard around the workplace, you should inform your employer in writing at your earliest convenience. If no measures are taken to address the issue, you can then report it to OSHA, at which time you will be protected from any kind of retaliation. Additionally, a qualified agency will be able to investigate the issue and determine if you are truly at risk for any kind of occupational illness or workplace injury.