Industrial disease (Work-related)

This is when you fall ill due to tasks you have had to do at work. Whilst there are different type of industrial disease/illness the can all develop in similar ways, if you have been given the correct equipment or have been instructed to, or prevented from, following the correct procedures or if you have been exposed to chemicals or substances that are harmful to the body.

What is an industrial disease/illness?

Hearing loss and industrial deafness

This is the type of damage which is cause by being subjected to industrial noise and unfortunately, in most cases, can be irreversible.

Vibration white finger (white finger / hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS))

Most commonly caused by the continuous use of hand-held power tools, such as pneumatic drills, chainsaws, hammer action tools. The damage is caused by the repeated vibrations in the hand and arm area which subsequently affects the joints, nerves and blood vessels.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI)

RSI also covers vibration white finger and HAVS, symptoms of RSI can include aching and/or tenderness in the affected area, throbbing in the hands and wrist, tingling, numbness and tendon or nerve problems.
Repetitive strain injury is a condition that exacerbates due to performing repetitive physical tasks over a long period of time, this could be in any working environment such as an office typing, factory or building-site work.

Osteoarthritis

This is a condition where cartilage from around your joints wears away, this causes your bones to rub causing inflammation, stiffness and pain.

Whilst osteoarthritis can be caused by genetics or obesity there are various other ways the condition can develop

  • Trauma – for example from a road traffic accident
  • Impact/Injury – dislocated joints, torn cartilage, ligament damage/strains
  • Repetitive activities – kneeling, typing, operating machinery, physical labour
  • Respiratory illness claims
  • Most commonly know respiratory illness is asbestos-related but it also include lung disease (example COPD or cancer), mesothelioma and pleural thickening. These may be contracted due to working in an environment which has exposed you to hazardous substances.
  • Mesothelioma
    This is a type of cancer that is usually associated with exposure to asbestos, in most cases mesothelioma develops in the lungs, this is due to the inhalation of asbestos fibres, however mesothelioma can also develop in the abdomen.
    Symptoms can include, pain in the chest or lower back, cough, fever, unexpected weight loss, swelling of the arms or/and face, fatigue, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, trouble swallowing and/or hoarseness. These symptoms can take as long as 50 years to develop.
    Although mesothelioma is commonly known as a work-related illness there have been confirmed cases where an exposed workers family members have been diagnosed, this is due to them being exposed via fibres on the workers clothing.
  • Asbestosis,
    This is a long term condition caused by inhalation of asbestos over a prolonged period of time, it causes serious inflammation and scarring of the lungs.
  • Pleural thickening
    Also known as diffuse pleural thickening (DPT). A lung disease that thickens the lining of the lungs with extensive scarring, the main cause of which being exposed to asbestos. The condition cannot be cured but can be managed, it is known to cause chest pain and breathing difficulties and is one of the most commonly diagnosed respiratory illness caused from exposure to asbestos.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    This group of lung conditions are common in smokers and cause breathing difficulties, however some COPD cases are caused due to inflamed, narrowed or damaged lungs due to exposure to harmful chemicals, dust and fumes.
  • Lung cancer
    Exposure to harmful and hazardous substances known as carcinogenic chemical is one of the main causes for lung cancer. It begins by getting in to the bloodstream via ingestion, contact with the skin or inhalation, this then causes changes in the lungs which can cause the development of a cancerous malignant tumour/s. Common carcinogens related to industrial disease are, asbestos, soot, coal, smoke, diesel engine exhaust, coke, arsenic, pesticides, the production/welding of metals such as aluminium, iron and steel and silica dust.
    Symptoms usually persist more when a tumour is quite developed, these symptoms can include, chest pain, shortness of breath, unexpected weight loss, cough and fatigue.
  • Industrial skin diseases
    Caused by occupationally exposing skin to chemicals and irritants, industrial skin diseases often develop as an untreatable condition by working in unsafe conditions.
    There are two common types of industrial skin diseases
  • Dermatitis, which has two forms, allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. It develops into a rash and can cause sensations of stinging and/or burning causing pain for the sufferer.
  • Skin cancer, which has several types, Bowen’s disease, keratosis and basal cell carcinoma. This is usually caused by exposure to chemical products or UV rays.

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