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Does workers’ compensation cover illnesses?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2023 | Workplace Illness

Workers’ compensation is a system that helps employees who get hurt or sick because of their jobs. This program pays for qualifying medical expenses and a portion of lost income.

According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, about 69,500 workers in Ohio filed claims for injuries or illnesses they acquired while working in 2020. Of those, roughly 5,000 were for occupational illnesses.

Illnesses that qualify for workers’ compensation

Certain illnesses are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they happen because of exposure to dangers at work. Examples include:

  • Respiratory conditions: Exposure to dust, fumes and chemicals in the air can cause breathing problems. Manufacturing, mining and healthcare workers may develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, occupational asthma or bronchitis.
  • Hearing loss.Being around loud noises at work for a long time might cause you to lose hearing. This often affects people in manufacturing and construction jobs.
  • Skin disorders.Some workers develop skin problems because of workplace irritants or allergens. Food service, healthcare and manufacturing workers are often at risk.
  • Infectious and occupational diseases.Workers who develop infections on the job, like healthcare workers getting sick while caring for infected patients, might qualify. Others may contract asbestosis or mesothelioma.

Proving that your job directly caused your illness can be complex. You need to gather evidence such as medical records, work history and witness statements.

Workers’ compensation does not cover all illnesses

Illnesses without a direct link to work or the workplace usually do not qualify for workers’ compensation. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease and the common cold are not eligible for benefits unless they clearly result from your job.

Ohio’s workers’ compensation typically does not cover mental health problems unless they happen because of a physical injury at work. If you develop post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing a workplace accident, you might be eligible to receive benefits.

Seek medical attention

Delaying medical treatment might make your illness worse. Protect your health first, then find out if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.