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Workplace illnesses and workers' compensation

When most people in North Carolina think about workers' compensation, they think of scenarios in which a worker is physically injured on the job through an accident. The state's workers' compensation laws also provide for benefits in situations in which a worker has contracted certain illnesses due to exposure on the job, however.

There are multiple illnesses covered by workers' compensation laws. People who contract anthrax due to workplace exposure or those who have adverse reactions to a vaccination required by the employer are covered illnesses. Others include illnesses resulting from poisoning by arsenic, brass, chrome, benzol, mercury, zinc, phosphorous, manganese or compressed-air illnesses.

Cancers and ulcerations due to tar or bitumen exposure are also covered, as are bursitis, miner's nystagmus, blisters, radium poisoning, pressure fractures, carbon monoxide poisoning and hearing losses due to continued, unreasonable noise levels in the work environment. There are numerous other work-related illnesses that are eligible for workers' compensation claims and benefits, including asbestos exposure diseases. People whose illnesses are due to exposure of chemicals will only be eligible if they have been exposed to the substance in an appreciable amount over a period of time leading to the illness.

Like workplace accidents, many workplace illnesses are covered under the state's workers' compensation law. People who have suffered from a workplace-related illness may be able to recover benefits in order to help pay for medical expenses and lost income by filing a claim with their employer's workers' compensation. Employers are mandated to provide coverage to their employees. If an employer disputes a claim, a worker may wish to consult with a workers' compensation attorney in order to try to overcome the dispute and recover deserved benefits for the injuries suffered from the workplace illness.

Source: north Carolina Industrial Commission, "§97-53. Occupational diseases enumerated; when due to exposure to chemicals.", November 05, 2014

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