Construction and mining, rubber manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry have the highest workplace cancer risk in Chicago, Illinois. The same risk applies to building demolition, firefighting, brake repair, asbestos milling, and naval service jobs. These professions expose workers to carcinogenic chemicals easily absorbed through the skin, ingested, and inhaled.
Asbestos exposure is a known cause of serious diseases, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you were diagnosed with cancer following exposure to asbestos or other carcinogenic chemicals at work. In such a scenario, you need to find a good mesothelioma lawyer to help you pursue a workers’ comp claim from your employer or an injury claim against any other liable party.
How Does Your Work Environment Impact Your Health?
Work-related problems can affect your mental, emotional, and physical health. These problems may include workplace injury, exposure to hazardous conditions, job dissatisfaction, violence, discrimination, bullying, stress, and accidental death.
Where Can Asbestos Be Found?
Asbestos was first mined in North America in the late 1800s. Its increased adoption began during World War II. Today, it is present in automobiles, trains, ships, factories, schools, homes, roads, and buildings across the country.
Asbestos consists of six mineral fibers known for their chemical and fire-resistant properties and strength. These characteristics make it ideal for absorbing sound and fireproofing military vehicles, textiles, and buildings. It is also suitable for insulation and strengthening plastics and cement.
You can find asbestos in floor tile and adhesives, patching compounds, and castings for electrical wires. Household substances and products like fireproof stove pads and fabrics, automobile brake pads, and artificial ashes for gas-fired fireplaces also contain this chemical.
Despite its potential health risks, asbestos has yet to be banned. Instead, it is highly regulated to reduce the risks of exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency seeks to address these risks in legacy and new asbestos products.
Relatively low levels of asbestos are in soil, water, and air. Due to their low concentration, they are less likely to make people sick. However, if you work directly with asbestos or are a victim of asbestos removal safety violations, you may develop an asbestos-related disease.
Professions with a high risk of exposure include fabric milling, building demolition, firefighting, and railway construction. Other occupations include rubber, plastic, flooring and chemical manufacturing, naval service, and shipbuilding. Construction, livestock farming, stationary engine, and machine handling lead when it comes to skin cancer rates by occupation.
What Are Considered Asbestos-Related Diseases?
Asbestos fibers only pose significant health risks when they break down into tiny particles in the air. The airborne particles can easily be inhaled, causing inflammation and scarring after they gather in the lungs. Asbestos is considered a cancer-causing substance (or a carcinogen).
When you inhale asbestos particles, you may develop lung cancer, scarring of the lung lining, or permanent lung damage. You may also have pleural effusions (due to the fluid that collects in the lungs), throat, kidney, or gastrointestinal cancer, and cancer of the stomach lining and chest.
The chances of developing an asbestos-related condition depend on the level of exposure. It may take between ten and forty years after exposure to experience the symptoms of the condition.
Common symptoms associated with an asbestos-related disease include fatigue, shortness of breath, appetite loss, and significant weight loss. Face or neck swelling, prolonged hoarseness, pain in the abdomen or chest, a cough, and coughing of blood are other symptoms of asbestos-related illness.
Steps to Prove That Your Cancer Was Caused by Job Exposure in Chicago, Illinois
You are likelier to develop occupational cancers if you work in an environment with high carcinogens. The longer you are exposed to toxic fine particles, gasses, fumes, or chemicals, the more likely you will contract the disease. The following steps can help you prove that your cancer was caused by job exposure:
Proving You Upheld Safety Standards
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires employers to implement specific safety rules to protect workers from work-related hazards. These rules apply to industries with high accident risks, like maritime operations, agriculture, and construction work. The rules limit the amount of toxic chemical exposure faced by employees.
According to OSHA standards, workers must use safety equipment and observe safety practices. On the other hand, employers must constantly monitor workplace dangers and maintain records of work-related illnesses and injuries.
The World Health Organization urges industry players and governments to equip workplaces with several measures to meet health and safety standards. It also encourages them to ensure work environments are free from dangerous pollutants and carcinogens. WHO-supported interventions to prevent unnecessary suffering and deaths from workplace cancer include:
- Stopping the use of asbestos
- Offering protective clothes for workers deployed out in the sun
- Banning tobacco use at work
- Introducing organic solvents and technologies that can convert carcinogens into non-carcinogens
Showing that you upheld your employer’s safety standards is essential when proving that your cancer was caused by exposure to carcinogens at the workplace. The machine safety practices and personal protection equipment can help you build your claim. If they weren’t present, you might argue that the employer was negligent in ensuring your safety. Of course, a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer with a proven record of successfully handling claims like yours is your best bet at gathering compelling evidence and arguments to prove your employer’s negligence.
Obtain Medical Testimony
Medical testimony is an important piece of evidence in your workers’ compensation claim. It can be issued orally by a board-certified medical doctor or through a medical report that shows that you sustained an injury from a work-related activity. Your lawyer can use medical records and doctor testimony to link your illness to workplace exposure to asbestos.
The medical testimony will identify the injuries or illnesses you incurred from the accident by highlighting their symptoms and effects on your body. It may also highlight any pre-existing injuries the illness worsened and its effects on your lifestyle and work. The doctor will recommend treatment and recovery time for the condition, which serves as damages for some of your economic damages.
Doctors use several approaches when diagnosing cancer. These approaches include a physical exam, laboratory tests, imaging tests, and a biopsy. A physical test involves the doctor feeling areas in your body for lumps that suggest cancerous cells.
Laboratory tests help check for cancer-related abnormalities in the blood or urine samples. An imaging test involves using a noninvasive machine to examine your internal organs and bones. Lastly, a biopsy involves the collection of cells that get tested in the lab.
Cancer is often curable when diagnosed at its early stages. Early screening can also help save lives and reduce future medical treatment costs. Get screened for cancer once you notice the symptoms. Review the cancer screening guidelines with your doctor to determine cancer risk factors.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Illinois
Illinois law mandates all employers to cover their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. Besides covering the medical treatment costs, workers’ compensation offers payments to injured workers who cannot work. The three types of benefits you can recover from this type of insurance in Chicago, Illinois, include medical coverage, wage replacement, and death benefits.
The main purpose behind workers’ compensation is to cover an employee’s medical expenses in the event of an injury or illness. Employers in Illinois must pay for any medical costs a worker incurs due to workplace injury or illness.
Medical expenses covered in workers’ compensation include medication, physical therapy, emergency care, and doctor’s visits. The insurance also covers prosthetic devices, surgery, hospital care, and first aid.
If a workplace injury left you with a disability, you can seek workers’ compensation disability benefits. These benefits are given depending on the nature of the disability. They include:
- Permanent total disability benefits – covers a permanent disability that prevents you from performing any job duty permanently.
- Permanent partial disability – covers permanent disfigurement or disability that allows you to work, but prevents you from earning as much as you did before you got injured.
- Temporary total disability benefits – covers an injury that prevents you from working temporarily.
- Temporary partial disability benefits – covers an injury that allows you to perform only light duties or work fewer hours than usual temporarily.
You might be entitled to death benefits if you lose a loved one due to a workplace accident or injury. The death benefits will cover funeral or burial costs. Any amount awarded to you will depend on the workers’ compensation coverage limits.
In a workers’ compensation claim involving death benefits, the beneficiary is an entity or person that the deceased legally designated to receive benefits from their financial products. A primary beneficiary is a person named to get a deceased’s benefits, while a contingent beneficiary is the second in line to get the benefits if the primary beneficiary passes away.
Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.