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Workplace Illnesses – Results of Exposure to Hazardous Substances

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance benefit is meant to provide immediate financial assistance to workers who sustain work-related injuries or develop illnesses due to work. One of the stipulations of the benefit, however, is freedom of the employer from any litigation that will further require him/her from paying extra amount for the damages suffered by the employee. This freedom, though, can be bypassed if it can be proven that the employer does not provide the said benefit or if the injury was a result of the employer’s reckless or intentional acts of negligence. In any of such instances, the victim can sue his/her employer for the full range of financial damages that include mental anguish, suffering, pain and punitive damages.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of 1971, which is an off-shoot of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or OSH Act, a federal mandate that requires the assurance of a healthy and safe working environment for all employees in both the private and government sectors, puts the burden on employers to make sure that their working environment is, indeed, a safe and healthy workplace.

The law is sure to benefit all employees, but more so those working in construction, industrial and mining companies, who are exposed to hazardous tools, equipment and substances every day. One of the dreaded results that exposure to hazardous elements brings about is the development of a deadly chronic illness. This type of illness usually gets diagnosed only years after it has already developed, when it can no longer be cured. Some of the most dangerous substances that many workers have been exposed to, and the illnesses these can lead to include:

  • Asbestos, a heat-resistant mineral that causes Mesothelioma, a deadly type of cancer
  • Benzene, a chemical that is widely used in the production of plastics, synthetic fibers and other consumer products. Benzene is known to cause multiple myeloma, non-hodgkins lymphoma, myelodysplasia, aplastic anemia and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • Manganese, a highly-reactive metal that is used in the manufacture of stainless steel, carbon steel, wires and welding rods. Its fume (which is emitted through the use of manganese welding rods) can damage the brain and central nervous system, the kidney, lungs and liver. It usually causes what is known as the “welder’s disease” or “manganism”
  • Silica, which can be inhaled during crushing of sands and rocks. Silica dust can cause silicosis, an irreversible, deadly form of lung illness which scars and inflames the lungs.

In 2012, almost 3 million cases of workplace illnesses and injuries were reported by private industry employers to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the US Department of Labor. Though these illnesses and injuries may be non-fatal, these still amount to a very high number, considering the fact that situations, which can lead to the development of workplace illnesses, can surely be avoided.

Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC, states on its website that occupational illnesses, including lung disorders, are completely preventable, but only with the correct workplace practices and safety equipment which employers are obliged to provide their workers.

Ways to Lower Your Insurance Rates

Car insurance is mandatory in most states in the U.S., with the exception of New Hampshire, California and Wisconsin, although even the last two require some type of proof of financial responsibility. The rationale behind this sweeping regulation is to ensure that in case of an accident, the associated costs can be covered by the driver whether it is property damage or personal injury to all parties concerned.

But what you need to pay for this assurance is not exactly pocket change. Even in areas with the lowest average car insurance rates, the annual premium is still almost $1,000 (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), but this still depends on a number of factors including your coverage, driving record, vehicle, distance driven, demographics, and location. It is obviously desirable to lower your insurance rates as much as possible. Because paying as much for car insurance as you do to feed yourself each month is beyond bothersome, here are some ways to lower your premiums.

Lower Coverage

According to Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.®, it is good to have comprehensive insurance coverage, but that will really knock that money ball right out of the park. Calculate how much insurance you think you need based on your track record and get as close to it as possible that your budget will allow. Needless to say, the lower your coverage, the lower your premiums.

Drive Safe

Insurance companies calculate the premiums based on the risks. If you are a bad driver, it will reflect on how often you make a claim for what and for how much. If you are a really bad driver, insurance companies won’t cover you at all. If you want the lowest possible rate, keep your driving record clean by driving defensively, using products that make driving safer such as Bluetooth headsets for your mobile phone, and driving sober.

Choose a Safe Vehicle

Insurers have a handle on which cars are prone to theft, accidents, and damage. Cars are assigned a vehicle safety rating. The higher the rating, the lower the premiums. If you are just about to buy a car, choose a vehicle that has a high safety rating to help yourself save money on insurance.

Drive Less

If you drive long distances on a regular basis, you are likely to pay more for insurance every year because statistics show that the more miles travelled, the higher the risk of an accident even if you are a safe driver. You may want to consider commuting or carpooling to reduce your exposure to accidents as well as your insurance premiums.

Single males under the age of 25 are the highest risk group for accidents based on actuarial tables, so if you fall under that category, there’s not much you can do. As for location, unless you really pay an outrageous amount in car insurance (Detroiters can pay as much as $10,723.22 a year) you probably won’t want to move just to lower you insurance rates. But then again, people have done more for less. The savings against that high cost can be considerable!