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Suffering work-related asthma

Louisiana employees may be interested to learn that an estimated 11 million workers, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are exposed to airborne agents that are associated with occupational asthma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even concluded that an estimated 2.7 million workers across the nation were suffering from asthma that may have been caused or aggravated by conditions in the workplace.

Asthma is a disease that causes the pathways in the lungs to become inflamed and narrowed. When aggravated, work-related asthma symptoms can include coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. Irritants and certain airborne substances, including smoke and pollen, can trigger asthmatic responses that could potentially be life-threatening if not well-controlled. While many irritants may be caused by breathing them in, skin contact with certain substances can also cause asthma.

Employers can help protect their employees and cut down on the incidence of work-related asthma by reducing exposures. One way to do this is to replace the products that are known to cause or aggravate asthma with alternatives. Improved ventilation and proper housekeeping can also help keep the exposure levels down. OSHA and other agencies have published lists of acceptable exposure levels that should be followed to help keep employees safe and healthy.

Workers who contract an occupational disease may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits that could cover the cost of their medical care and a portion of their wages if they cannot work. An attorney could assist with preparing and filing the required claim and providing advocacy at an appeals hearing if the claim is denied or disputed by the employer or its insurance carrier.

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