4 Dangerous types of occupational diseases you should know about
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Health and Wellness

4 Dangerous types of occupational diseases you should know about

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4 Dangerous types of occupational diseases you should know about

Safety training and measures can minimize accidents at work, but they can still happen despite our best efforts.


Safety training and measures can minimize accidents at work, but they can still happen despite our best efforts. Construction, factories, and other industrial environments are more likely to cause accidents than office workers because of overexertion or repetitive stress injuries.

Since the state and federal governments began compensating civil employees for health complications resulting from workplace hazards in the early 1900s, public awareness about work-related injuries and diseases has increased.

However, despite growing awareness among the public, work-borne conditions continued to cause long-term damage, including an extraordinarily high number of deaths each year.

Some workplace conditions may put workers at risk of occupational diseases (O.D.s). O.D. hazards are classified according to the work environment, the degree of exposure, and the worker's sensitivity.

If left untreated or preventative measures aren't taken, occupational diseases can lead to death. In recent years, regulations have required most employers to implement occupational health and safety programs to eliminate the dangers of occupational diseases.

With that said, let's look at some common examples of occupational diseases.

Most Common Occupational Diseases

Many reportable occupational diseases are generally caused by exposure to specific environments, substances, or chemicals. Some of these occupation-related diseases are:

Pulmonary Diseases

A significant number of people worldwide die from lung diseases caused by occupational exposure. This is because most people were subjected to dust, fumes, or gases for many years at their workplace.

Breathing in these materials can result in severe and long-term lung diseases such as asbestosis, COPD, Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma, silicosis, asthma, and cancer.

Some industries and occupations are at greater risk than others. For instance, people who work in construction, stonework, textiles, or welding are at risk of contracting lung disease.

Farmers who handle grain or feed their animals are exposed to dust while doing their tasks. They're exposed to harmful vapors from the chemicals they use on farms. Later in life, this may lead to asthma and/or chronic bronchitis.

As a construction worker, you should be aware of different lung diseases. Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and occupational asthma are among them.

COVID-19 Exposure at Work

COVID-19 was added to the list of potential occupational diseases workers can contract at their workplace. Based on OSHA's "Occupational Exposure Risk to COVID-19," some professions have a higher vulnerability than others, with healthcare and morgue workers in the top spot.

In the workplace, people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) should take added precautions. An individual's exposure risk decreases if they're around fewer people.

Governments and regulatory agencies have promoted COVID-19 prevention guidelines to combat the highly contagious virus spread.

For example, a topic on the OSHA website devoted to "Control and Prevention" emphasizes frequent hand washing, hand sanitizer usage (when soap isn't available), avoiding facial contact, respiratory etiquette (covering mouth when coughing or sneezing), and recognizing personal risk factors.

Occupation-related hearing loss

Occupational hearing loss is also common in the workplace. Nearly 22 million workers are exposed to noise levels above the Recommended Exposure Limit (REL).

Loud noises and ototoxic chemicals can cause occupational hearing loss. Patients can experience mild hearing impairment to severe hearing loss.

According to NIOSH, the REL for 8 hours is 85 decibels or less. In general, workers should not be exposed to noise that exceeds 85 decibels, preferably for any duration, especially not for over eight hours.

Chemical autotoxins may also affect workers' hearing, such as organic solvents and fumigants.

You can prevent occupational hearing loss through prevention if noise levels are regulated using the Hierarchy of Control by health and safety professionals. The most effective way to regulate noise levels is to eliminate hazardous noise.

Particulate lead poisoning

Those working around or near lead also suffer from occupational diseases. These jobs include boat building, smelting lead, glazing pots, removing paint, and pipefitting.

Lead dust exposure can lead to serious health problems such as fertility problems, kidney problems, and brain damage.

Lead circulates in the blood before collecting in the bones if it is absorbed. Many years can pass before a worker with lead poisoning experiences symptoms. Symptoms include nausea, weight loss, memory impairment, and stomach pain.

Our bodies can absorb lead not only through breathing but also through eating, drinking, smoking, and biting our nails.

Therefore, those who work with or around lead should have a designated eating area and should wash their hands properly before eating.

Contact Dermatitis

Skin diseases, such as contact dermatitis, are common occupational diseases caused by allergens, irritants, chemicals, temperatures, radiation, mechanical labor, plants, animals, and parasites.

As per the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in the U.S., 13 million workers are exposed to factors that may cause skin diseases, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The most common occupational skin disease in the U.S. is occupational contact dermatitis, or eczema, which appears as skin inflammation.

Symptoms may include redness, itching, and flaky skin. These conditions are easily treated and prevented.

In case of severe contact dermatitis, cool and damp dressings, allergy medications, and steroid therapy may be required.

Sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoiding hazardous irritants can reduce exposure to complex variables and prevent the development of skin disease.

The Takeaway

Controlling worker exposure to hazardous substances is crucial. Therefore, it is a good idea to educate your staff on preventing these diseases and perhaps update your H&S policy.

Providing safety equipment and conducting regular risk assessments are also feasible options. Keep your staff on the lookout for signs that they may have of one or more of these diseases.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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