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Workers' compensation can apply to work-related illness

Connecticut's workers' compensation system doesn't cover only injuries caused by work-related accidents, it can also cover work-related illnesses. Whether the problem is a repetitive strain injury or an illness caused by long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, these work-related illnesses develop over time until they require medical treatment.

One man recently told a reporter about how he was working at a fiberglass manufacturer for only a week and a half before he started to feel like his lungs were inflamed. He also felt feverish and nauseated. He sought medical treatment and ended up spending two days at a hospital, where a doctor said that his symptoms were largely a reaction to the man breathing fumes from solvents at the factory. A second employee at the factory reportedly experienced even worse symptoms.

Eventually, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the factory for eight health and safety violations, including failure to determine whether workers needed safety equipment and failure to instruct workers in the proper use of respirators.

The workers involved in this particular case were actually prisoners who were on a supervised work-release program. They were in a particularly vulnerable position when it came to reporting safety concerns. Indeed, one of them claims he was put in solitary confinement after he complained about his treatment.

Still, all Connecticut workers can face intimidation and fear when they want to report health problems at work. They should take some comfort in knowing that the law is on their side, protecting workers' rights to keep their workplaces safe and to be compensated when their workplaces make them sick. Attorneys specializing in workers' compensation issues can help those suffering from work-related illness to get the benefits they deserve.

Source: Post-Crescent, "Fiberglass work puts inmate at health risk," Dee J. Hall, Oct. 6, 2013

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