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Medical expenses for occupational skin diseases can be high

Many workers in Illinois face workplace hazards that cause occupational diseases rather than physical injuries. The medical expenses that follow can be as high as those incurred when workplace accidents cause fractured bones and/or other serious injuries. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), skin diseases are second on the list of most common occupational diseases -- mostly caused by exposure to chemicals.

NIOSH says the number of workers nationwide who could face exposure to toxic chemicals in their workplaces exceeds 13 million. These are specifically those employees who work with chemicals that can enter their systems through skin absorption. Occupations posing such hazards include agriculture, construction, auto repair, cosmetology, health care and food service.

Different forms of skin diseases occur in workplaces, including dermatitis caused by contact or allergic reactions, infections, skin cancer and other diseases. The most common occupational skin disease is eczema -- also called contact dermatitis. Symptoms include itchy and painful skin, redness, blisters and swelling. Skin diseases develop through chemical reactions upon contact or through ongoing exposure that develops into allergies.

While it is the responsibility of Illinois employers to protect workers from harm, many disregard that responsibility. To help them cope with high medical expenses, employees suffering from occupational skin diseases may file benefits claims with the workers' compensation insurance program. Proving that the condition is work related may be challenging, but the help of an experienced workers' comp attorney may be all that is needed for a claim to be successful. Benefits typically cover all expenses related to workplace injuries or illnesses.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Occupational skin diseases: More common than you think", Jan. 29, 2017

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