What is an Occupational Disease

What is an Occupational Disease?

An occupational disease is a disease that is contracted primarily as a result of exposure to risks related to your work. Here all you need to know!

Employees might not expect to develop a disease because of their jobs, but this is unfortunately sometimes what happens. Illnesses that are related to one’s occupation cause enormous damage to families around America every year.

An occupational disease is a disease that is contracted primarily as a result of exposure to risks related to your work. A chronic condition or illness that happens due to a job, occupational action or work setting is considered to be an occupational disease.

What Causes Occupational Diseases?

Some of the more common causes of occupational diseases include gas, solvents, radiation, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, pressure, vibrations and infectious agents. These causative agents can attack different organs of the body and cause the disease to just about any part of the body.

Different Types of Hazards

The hazards that cause occupational diseases can be categorized into five categories:

1. Psychosocial hazards

They are hazards to our mental state and include sexual harassment, depression, anxiety disorders and occupational stress.

2. Biological hazards

These agents of disease include fungi, protozoa, bacteria, viruses and others.

3. Physical hazard

These include mechanical, electrical, noise, extreme temperatures, and very high or low air pressure.

 4. Clinical hazards

These can include anesthetic gas, disinfectants, solvents, dust, fumes, and acids or alkali.

5. Ergonomic hazards

These can include lifting heavy items, repetitive motions, and static motion.

Jobs that often lead to occupational diseases

The types of jobs that lead to occupational diseases are many and varied and depend on the particular job and associated duties, and the environment in which the job is performed. A well-known occupational disease is asbestosis. This is a lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos and can lead to cancer.

Exposure to the vapours of industrial chemicals such as benzene or formaldehyde can lead to brain damage. Noisy jobs in factories, for example, can lead to hearing loss. Silicosis is caused by the inhalation of silica dust.

Common occupational diseases

Some of the more common occupational diseases include carpal tunnel syndrome, computer vision syndrome, diseases of the skin, radiation sickness, lead poisoning and lung disease.

Occupations that are high risk

Some occupations are a far higher risk than others. Some of the high-risk occupations include metal machine work, construction, automobile repair, catering, hairdressing, and construction. If you work in any of these occupations, make sure that you are aware of your working conditions and that you stay alert to any health issues.

How the body reacts

The body can react to workplace hazards in three ways:

  1. Acute, immediate reactions

These reactions are usually not permanent and can be caused by a one-off event such as a chemical spill. Symptoms can include nausea and shortness of breath.

  1. Gradual reactions

These reactions tend to last longer and come about when you are exposed to a hazard over a period of time. Symptoms could include dermatitis or skin rashes, and asthma.

  1. Delayed reactions

These diseases take a long time to develop and might only become apparent long after leaving a job. They are caused by long-term exposure to a work activity or substance and might include hearing loss or lung cancer.