Probably the best-known work-related lung diseases are those caused by exposure to asbestos -- namely, lung cancer and asbestosis. However, many other lung conditions and diseases can be caused or exacerbated by a variety of substances in a multitude of work environments.
People who work in factory jobs, mining, firefighting, agriculture, foundry jobs, car repair, construction and more can be exposed to particles that can damage the lungs. The smaller the particles, the more easily they can be inhaled and the more damage they can cause to the lungs. The body absorbs them rather than causing the person to cough and expel them.
Common work-related lung diseases and conditions include:
- Coal worker's pneumoconiosis (black lung disease)
- Byssinosis (brown lung disease)
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (including what are known as cork worker's lung, farmer's lung and mushroom worker's lung)
Besides exposure to certain dusts and fibers, exposure to unsafe chemicals can also cause lung damage. People who are already at risk for respiratory problems, such as smokers, are at even greater risk than those who aren't.
Symptoms of lung diseases vary based on the type of disease, the seriousness of the condition and the individual. However, common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath or abnormal breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
Employers are required to make workplaces as safe as possible for their workers. If they're going to be breathing in harmful substances, they should be provided with the appropriate gear -- such as masks and shields. If there are harmful substances in the air, they may be required to monitor the levels. It's wise to find out what safety precautions your employer and your fellow workers are required to take.
If you are diagnosed from work-related lung disease, it's crucial to seek the workers' compensation benefits you need and deserve. If you're having difficulty getting those benefits, it may be wise to consult an experienced attorney for guidance and assistance.