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Connecticut workplace illness numbers increase

In total, workplace illnesses and injuries in Connecticut increased by 8 percent from 2013 to 2014. UConn Health reported that the number of workplace illnesses was 18.7 illnesses per 10,000 workers during that period which also places the number of illnesses in Connecticut at 7 times higher than the national average. Of the 8,257 occupational illness cases in 2014, approximately 3,500 were musculoskeletal related; 2,500 were infectious disease related, 650 were respiratory illnesses, nearly 400 were skin conditions and greater than 1,000 fell into an "other" category for the illness suffered.

The author of the report, and emeritus professor, noted that the increase was troubling. He added that preventative strategies to combat workplace illnesses such as ergonomics, safer chemicals, more effective infection control and improvements to indoor office environments should have a positive impact on workplace health and safety. The report was compiled using data from Workers' Compensation, reports from physicians and a survey collected by the Connecticut Labor Department and national Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workers have important protections in place to safeguard against the harm that can be caused to them and to their families because of an occupational illness. Workers can claim workers' compensation benefits which will provide assistance with medical expenses, lost earnings and other challenges the worker may face. In the even the workplace illness is fatal, death benefits may be available through workers' compensation to surviving family members following the loss of the loved one.

Additional legal protections may also be available in certain circumstances which is why it is important for workers to be familiar with all the options available to them. It is also essential that they are able to obtain workers' compensation benefits when needed and understand the process of doing so.

Source: Hartfordbusiness.com, "CT workplace injury, illness levels higher than national average," John Stearns, Sept. 7, 2016

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