Respiratory Protection Week

September 2, 2019

The first annual Respiratory Protection Week will take place September 3-6, according to a recent National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) press release. This year, NIOSH celebrates both the history of respiratory protection as well as the current research and developments on workplace respirators.

Workplace Respiratory Protection Awareness

For the past eight years, NIOSH has held a respirator awareness event designed to promote respiratory protection information and raise awareness through social media. The event, N95 Day, was consistently held on September 5. This year, however, a week will be dedicated to review the history of workplace respiratory protection and discuss the status of new research and products. According to the Director of NIOSH, Respiratory Protection Week honors the progress that has been made over the last 100 years as well as the current efforts by researchers and practitioners to protect workers from airborne toxins.

Respiratory Exposure Risk for Workers

NIOSH reports that respiratory illnesses affect workers in all industrial sectors and account for a large percentage of work-related disease fatalities. Some types of workers who are at high risk of exposure to respirable toxins include:

  • Auto mechanics
  • Construction workers
  • Farmers
  • Firefighters
  • Healthcare workers
  • Janitors
  • Maritime workers
  • Miners
  • Painters

Types of Respiratory Illness

According to NIOSH, the type and severity of a worker’s illness depends on factors such as the type of work being performed, the type of substance that was inhaled, and the location of the lung where it settled. When workers are exposed to dusts, vapors, fumes, and other toxic respirable materials, it can lead to respiratory illnesses and diseases including:

  • Allergies
  • Asbetosis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Influenza
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Silicosis
  • Tuberculosis

Workers’ Compensation for Work-Related Respiratory Diseases

Most Pennsylvania employees are covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). Under the Act, workers may receive various benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses, including compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Death benefits are also available for survivors of deceased workers; eligible family members may receive a certain percentage of the worker’s weekly wages in addition to burial expenses.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault based system therefore workers are generally entitled to benefits regardless of who caused their accident; unlike personal injury plaintiffs, they are not required to prove fault. However, employers must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards that pertain to their industry.

There are several OSHA standards governing the general industry as well as specific industries such as longshoring and construction. Generally, workers have a right to be protected from toxic chemicals and employers must ensure chemical safety in the workplace by classifying and labeling hazards, disseminating safety data sheets, training workers, and providing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Workers who believe their rights have been violated are advised to contact a qualified local attorney to discuss their case.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Assist Workers in Obtaining Benefits for Occupational Respiratory Illnesses

If you believe your respiratory illness was caused by your job duties or work environment, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys can explain your legal options and help you collect the maximum amount of benefits to which you are entitled. We represent workers in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.

Located in PhiladelphiaBensalemLansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum LynneDarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssingtonFolcroftGlenoldenHaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztownLansdowneMediaMerion StationMortonNarberthNorristownNorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect ParkQuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper DarbyWest Chester, and Wynnewood.