Four Occupational Diseases and Tips For Prevention

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates globally over 160 million people contract an occupational disease every year.

Preventing occupational diseases becomes tedious when employers and large companies don’t do enough for the safety of their employees.

Workplaces such as construction sites, industries, and even agricultural lands can be hazardous. The likelihood of you contracting a painful illness, getting a severe physical injury, or getting disabled, is very high in these dangerous locations.

But prolonging treatment once you fall victim to occupational diseases will only add to your misery.

When you have the correct information, you can address conditions like lung disease, hearing loss, and even blood infections. Therefore, taking precautions will help you identify symptoms and ensure that you practice workplace safety to the best of your ability. To add to your knowledge and save guard yourself, here are some diseases and their prevention you should know:

  1. Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer primarily of the lungs because of prolonged exposure to asbestos.

You may get this cancer if you have worked as a firefighter, construction worker, or industrial laborer without adequate protection provided by your employer.

Asbestos gradually builds up in your lungs and will cause you severe pain in the chest, making you cough up blood and clubbing your fingers.

Cancer is not easy to treat and comes at a heavy price. The several rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation will make you physically weak and burn through your savings. Since mesothelioma is an unfortunate consequence of the company’s negligence, you should file a lawsuit.

Therefore, a legal institute like Simmons Firm will connect you with seasoned lawyers to get you the compensation you deserve.

The money you win will give you access to more lab tests to determine the location of cancer, better aftercare following cancer medication, and surgery to remove the tumor.

While asbestos products are banned now, these fibers are still present in old exhaust pipes, within the walls of old houses, and between insulations.

Therefore, whether you renovate a home or extinguish a fire, make sure you wear proper protective gear.

After working on an asbestos-rich site, you will need respirators equipped with a HEPA filtered cartridge, rubber boots, safety goggles, disposable coveralls, and a shower.

  1. Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is a type of metal poisoning that results from high exposure to lead fumes or accidentally ingesting lead-laced water.

Up to 70% of lead dust gets inhaled, while 30% of lead dust gets ingested and absorbed into your body. You are likely to have a high chance of getting lead poisoning if you have worked in lead smelting, pottery glazing, or as a plumber.

Lead poisoning leads to severe health issues such as headaches, fatigue, irritability, and joint pain.

When you choose to ignore these symptoms, your condition deteriorates further and may make you infertile, impact your kidneys, and cause you to develop heart problems.

Apart from your occupation, if you are drinking unfiltered water, you will risk accelerating lead poisoning.

You will need a simple blood test to determine the poisoning. Treatment includes Chelation therapy, in which a medication gets orally administered so that it binds to the lead, causing you to excrete it in your urine.

However, recovery is not swift, as the half-life of lead varies from about a month in blood, half a month in tissue, and at least 20 years in the bones.

Preventing lead poisoning takes some vigilance on your part. While eating at work, you should wash your hands thoroughly and have a designated eating area.

You should also ensure you wear disposable coveralls while handling lead-laced equipment and getting rid of them at your worksite.

Your workstation should also be adequately ventilated and use respirators to prevent inhaling dust.

  1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when your median nerve is pressurized. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of your hand surrounded by bones and ligaments.

So, when your hand goes through the same hand motions and rests in an awkward position, you increase the pressure on your nerve. Professions like factory workers handling heavy equipment, musicians, athletes, and hairdressers have an increased likelihood of developing this condition.

If you develop carpal tunnel syndrome, you will likely have numbness, a tingling sensation, weakness in your hand, and heaviness in your shoulders.

The pain may also be highly excruciating and make you lose sleep. If you are a woman, you have a higher chance of having this condition since your carpal tunnel is smaller.

To diagnose you effectively, a doctor will test you in three different ways:

  • Tinel’s Sign. If you feel an itch, you have carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctor will tap your median nerve with a reflex hammer.
  • Phalen’s Maneuver. The doctor will press the back of your hands and fingers with your wrists flexed. After a minute, if you lose sensation, you have this condition.
  • Two-Point Discrimination Test. This test determines if you can tell if two objects touching your skin are distinct points or not.

Carpal Tunnel has no cure. However, you can opt for surgery, but this is extremely risky since less than 25% of all Carpal Tunnel Syndrome surgery cases are successful.

Therefore, rest your hand frequently, splint it if needed, and apply cold compression to the swelling. Prevention is most definitely better than cure.

  1. Hearing Loss

Over 22 million American workers have hearing loss due to their workplace. Occupational hearing loss is the damage to the inner ear from noise and vibrations.

You have a chance of experiencing hearing loss if you operate heavy and loud machines as a farmer or a construction site worker.

You will hurt your ears if you work in spaces where you frequently hear noise exceeding 85 DB over eight hours a day. Organic solvents like benzene can also cause hearing damage, apart from the noise.

You will start having difficulties understanding consonants, hearing muffled speeches, and needing to hear at a high volume.

You can determine whether you have this condition by a simple ear test. A doctor will use a tuning fork to determine how much you can hear and an audiometer to deduce the frequency.

If you have suffered from meningitis, the chances of you having hearing loss are high, and if it’s in your genetic makeup. If you have severe hearing loss, you may need surgery and hearing aids.

Preventive methods include wearing an appropriately fitting earmuff and taking frequent breaks while using noisy machines. You should use a noise monitor to inform you when the frequency is too high and needs to get dimmed.

Final Thoughts

Occupational diseases impact your overall life. However, taking the necessary precautions and learning about these conditions will help you mitigate damage to a certain degree.

A disease like mesothelioma gets contracted from heavy asbestos exposure and requires intense cancer treatment to shrink the tumor.

When you have lead poisoning from working with lead products, you need to clear your workstation and ventilate the area to minimize your blood from further poisoning.

You can avoid carpal tunnel syndrome by relaxing your hand more and taking frequent breaks. Similarly, hearing loss also gets subsided when you wear protective earmuffs and monitor the noise levels. Therefore, seek help today and manage your illnesses.