Receiving compensation for occupational diseases in Pennsylvania

Working a job often involves risks for employees from the tools and materials they use, as well as the conditions and environments in which they work. This requires careful adherence to all safety practices and standards. Most employees are trained to minimize risks to themselves and others in the workplace. Apart from being endangered by unforeseen workplace accidents, however, employees can find themselves exposed to materials that have long-term negative effects on their health.

Deterioration of health from the contraction of occupational diseases is well known to Pennsylvania law, which extensively specifies the causes of such diseases, including chemical poisoning from handling substances such as lead, arsenic, mercury, carbon monoxide and radium. Workers can also face toxic exposure to radiation, oils and residues that cause ulcers on the skin and even cancer. Other workers such as firefighters are highly susceptible to contracting lung diseases through exposure to fumes and smoke.

Typically, such occupational diseases tend to affect only the workers in that industry. For example, miners exposed to coal, silicon dioxide and anthracite may contract silicosis or Miner's Asthma. According to state law, for a person to claim workers' compensation for these diseases, there are specific time periods in which a person must have been employed in Pennsylvania in order to receive compensation. Compensation is only paid when the disease is contracted through a known work hazard and did not result from diseases common among the population as a whole.

The compensation for a particular disability or illness also depends on the employee's ability to further discharge his or her employment duties. When it is clear that the applicant will not be able to do so, the compensation will include some percentage of lost wages. Residents interested in learning more about occupational disease and workers' compensation in Pennsylvania may wish to discuss the matter with a professional.

Source: State.PA.us, "Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act," Accessed Oct. 31, 2014

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