Occupational disease is a health condition or ailment which results from a worker’s exposure to toxic chemicals, carcinogens, or other hazardous substances in a workplace. This, however, results in an illness or injury.
This means that a healthy individual who got employed as a worker can become exposed to harmful chemicals in the workplace, or even develops an illness or disease because of their working conditions or environment.
Occupational health is a specialty in the medical field that focuses on protecting and promoting employee health in the workplace.
The specialists in this field help employers prevent workplace injuries and illnesses and deal with health problems when they do occur. So, majorly, the focus is on keeping workers safe and healthy on the job.
Moreover, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency, oversees the occupational health field.
What is Occupational Disease
Now, occupational disease is an ailment or health condition that is caused by working in an environment that exposes you to toxins or chemicals.
That is, they are those diseases that occur as a result of working in an environment that is usually harmful to the body and impedes one’s health.
Examples of work conditions that can cause occupational diseases
Basically, there are instruments or substances that are very hazardous to the health when you expose yourself to them.
However, most company workers do not have an option other than working with these harmful materials. Which gets them exposed to harm thereby, putting their health on the line.
Take, for example, a pregnant woman working in a company that uses radiation a lot or x-ray. Or a man that works in a company that uses a chemical that hurts the eyes and stings when you inhale.
Over time, these working conditions will start affecting these workers. Not just that but also will cause health challenges in the long run.
What exposes you to occupational disease?
Furthermore, working continuously with some harmful chemicals, substances, or materials, can turn out to be a very bad decision in the long run. In case you work outside your home, check out if you work with some of these things listed below and take some necessary actions to protect yourself.
- Fumes and gases
Workplace disease diagnoses
The majority of the time, some workers develop diseases because of these hazards, especially if they work in the same position for long enough. Normally too, underlying health conditions can become aggravated by these harmful workplaces.
Technically, some of these workplace diseases are diagnosed after you see a doctor, while others can be diagnosed when you go for a test. So, for diseases that can not be detected with a physical exam, a doctor can order a urine test or blood test.
But whether you got diagnosed by a doctor or through a test, the fact remains that it has been building up in the body, regardless.
Occupational Health Program
In continuation, the occupational Health Program is a program in the United States that is in charge of making sure workers are healthy. Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). This program ensures that workers are safe at work.
More so, the United States Department of Labor (ILO) oversees this program. The Occupational Health Program helps workers avoid diseases and illnesses. It also helps them return to work when they’ve taken time off for certain reasons.
Occupational Health Specialist
Similarly, an Occupational Health Specialist is a registered nurse that practices occupational medicine.
Also, occupational medicine is a branch of nursing that focuses on preventing work-related injuries and illnesses for these workers.
Therefore, occupational Health Specialists work with employers to identify workplace hazards and to develop and implement injury and illness prevention programs.
These may include classroom and plant hazard presentations, ergonomic analyses, and job-performance assessments. Occupational Health Specialists also prepare injury and illness incident reports, provide medical surveillance, and postaccident and illness policies.
While it is advisable to get an occupational specialist for the protection of their workers, the company must make the environment safe too.
So, occupational safety is an area of health that deals with the protection of workers from injuries or illnesses in the workplace. It addresses the prevention of work-related accidents and diseases.
Factors That Increase occupational disease Risk
As it stands, workers exposed to hazardous workplace conditions face an elevated risk of developing occupational disease. There are factors that increase the possibility of contracting a work-related disease. They include
- Working for too long in a risky environment.
- Disregarding safety measures
- Boycotting relevant safety gears
- Not checking with your occupation specialist and doctor
Some possible work diseases
Workers who have come in contact with hazardous materials, harmful substances, or conditions in the workplace are exposed to some very harmful and toxic substances.
And exposure to these substances can lead to temporary or long-term health problems which may include:
- Hearing loss
- Lung irritation
- Inhalation injury
- Skin exposure
- Eye exposure
- Liver toxicity
- Cardiovascular toxicity
- Respiratory toxicity
- Psychological effects
- Injuries, including injuries sustained from machine or equipment malfunction, slip and fall
Signs and symptoms of occupational diseases
Over a period of time, signs and symptoms can appear after exposure to hazardous materials or conditions in the workplace.
Meanwhile, some of these signs and symptoms can be as simple as feeling sick or fatigued, while others can be more serious.
Occupational disease Prevention
According to World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO), occupational accidents and illnesses in the United States caused 19 percent of deaths (360,000).
The highest occupational disorders are often caused by respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Again, most of these illnesses and diseases at the workplace are preventable. So, the first step to prevention is by
- Ensuring that every employer has an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). The program is an umbrella that implements all employee health and safety measures. Like, such as identifying and correcting occupational hazards.
- Creating a healthy and human-friendly workspace or environment
- Providing and ensuring that workers wear safety gear all the time.
- Maintain machines and equipment to avoid malfunction.