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Common Occupation Illnesses Covered by Workers' Comp


Workers' compensation is a vital safety net designed to provide benefits to employees who suffer from occupational illnesses or injuries. While workplace accidents often come to mind first, occupational illnesses are just as critical. These illnesses result from long-term exposure to harmful substances or environments in the workplace. Understanding common occupational illnesses and their coverage under workers' compensation can help employees better protect their health and rights.

Respiratory Conditions

Respiratory conditions are among the most common occupational illnesses. Workers exposed to dust, chemicals, or other airborne contaminants are at significant risk. Common respiratory illnesses include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumoconiosis.


Occupational asthma is triggered by inhaling fumes, gases, dust, or other potentially harmful substances. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. It can significantly impact an employee’s quality of life and ability to work.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

This group of lung diseases includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, often found in industrial workplaces, can cause COPD.


Known commonly as "black lung disease," pneumoconiosis is caused by inhaling dust, particularly in coal mining. It leads to lung inflammation and scarring, severely affecting lung function.

Skin Disorders

Skin disorders are prevalent in occupations involving frequent contact with chemicals, irritants, or allergens. These conditions can range from mild irritations to severe allergic reactions and chronic conditions.

Contact Dermatitis

This is the most common work-related skin disorder, often caused by contact with irritants such as chemicals, soaps, or latex. Symptoms include redness, itching, and swelling.


Occupational eczema occurs due to an allergic reaction to substances in the workplace. It presents as dry, itchy, and inflamed skin that can become chronic without proper treatment and prevention measures.

Occupational Cancers

Certain workplace exposures can significantly increase the risk of cancer. These cancers are often linked to long-term exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos, benzene, or industrial chemicals.

Asbestos-Related Cancers

Asbestos exposure can lead to serious health issues, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. This mineral was commonly used in construction and manufacturing until its health risks became widely recognized.

Benzene-Related Cancers

Benzene is a chemical found in various industrial processes. Long-term exposure is associated with leukemia and other blood disorders.

Skin Cancer

Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, common in outdoor occupations like construction or agriculture, increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

Infectious Diseases

Workers in healthcare, laboratory settings, and public safety are at higher risk of contracting infectious diseases due to frequent exposure to pathogens.

Hepatitis B & C

These viral infections are common among healthcare workers who are exposed to blood and bodily fluids. They can lead to chronic liver disease and other severe health issues.

Tuberculosis (TB)

TB is an infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. Healthcare workers, particularly those working in high-risk areas, are at increased risk of exposure.


The recent pandemic highlighted the occupational risks for healthcare workers and other essential employees. Workers' compensation has been crucial in covering the medical costs and lost wages for those who contracted COVID-19 on the job.

Contact a Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Help

These are merely a few examples of common occupational illnesses covered by workers’ compensation. There are many more, and there’s a good chance that an illness you contracted because of your employment is covered by workers’ compensation. That said, you should contact a lawyer for help with your claim.

At Smolich and Smolich, we can provide the legal assistance you need to file a workers’ compensation claim for an occupational illness. We can guide you through the process and even assist you with any problems you encounter along the way, including an initial denial of your claim.

For more information about how we can help, contact us online and request a free initial consultation.