Occupational skin disease is the second most commonly reported occupational disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that more than 13 million workers in the U.S. might potentially be exposed to chemicals and other irritants that can be absorbed through the skin. Workers in Pennsylvania and all throughout the U.S. are exposed to chemicals that can cause skin disorders on a daily basis.
Causes of occupational skin disease
There are countless things that might cause an occupational skin disease, however they can largely be divided into four general categories:
- Mechanical – Friction can induce calluses and blisters, nerve damage, shearing of tissue and abrasions which can create an environment for infection or fungi.
- Physical agents – Sunlight, heat, cold, electricity radiation, x-rays and other agents can cause injury to the skin.
- Biological – Exposure in the workplace to bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites can cause infections of the skin.
- Chemicals – Chemicals pose a significant hazard to the skin. Approximately 75% of occupational skin disorders are caused by chemical irritants.
Common occupational skin diseases
Contact dermatitis is the most common type of occupational disease and it is estimated that it costs the U.S. economy approximately $1 billion each year. Skin cancers, skin infections or injuries and contact eczema are also very common. The majority of occupational skin diseases are reported by:
- Health care workers
- Metal workers
- Construction workers
- Food service industry workers
If you believe that you have an occupational skin disease, there is a 120 day time limit within becoming aware of the disease for giving notice to your employer if you want to file a workers’ compensation claim. Your doctor can send notice of your disease to your employer along with a statement that the condition is related to your occupation. If you work in an environment where you are exposed to toxic chemicals it is important that you notify your employer right away as soon as you and your doctor have identified the skin condition. Occupational diseases are covered by Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation program, which means that if you have contracted a skin disease at work you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical treatment and your lost wages when you are out of work due to your illness.
Be mindful that the workers’ compensation process can be confusing if you do not have a common workplace injury that can be treated and then you just return to work. Each case is different, and if your case ends up being complicated you would do well to have legal representation from an attorney who is familiar with the Pennsylvania workers compensation system, and who has helped countless people before you navigate the process of filing a claim and getting an accurate calculation of benefits.
If you are suffering from a work-related skin disease we would like to meet with you and discuss your case. Please contact the Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates. We maintain offices throughout the state to better serve our clients in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.