5 Common work-related diseases and their causes

Work-related diseases refer to the illnesses and conditions that occur at the workplace or cause the aggravation of a preexisting condition. In the early 1900s, the general public’s awareness of occupational hazards and work-related diseases improved immensely. 

Though the number of work-related diseases has considerably decreased over the past few decades, it is still causing millions of deaths. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Europe, work-related diseases are causing 2.4 million deaths globally. Among them, 0.2 million occur in Europe. 

Whereas, in 2020 alone, the US recorded 4,764 fatal injuries due to occupational hazards. 

Work-related injuries have prolonged and severe impacts on the lives of the victims and their families. But fortuitously, there are measures in place to seek justice for the affected parties if the employer’s negligence causes it.

What to do in case of a work-related injury? 

Upon suspecting a work-related injury, legal help is immediately sought. The lawyers work closely with the victim and their families to record their side of narration. 

They will also dig for the evidence, your work history, and the substance that might have caused the injury or disease. The purpose is to develop a sequential relationship between the symptoms and your exposure to harm at the workplace. 

After developing a relationship, you can file a lawsuit and demand compensation. 

Some prevalent work-related diseases include:

  • Mesothelioma

This fatal cancer is caused due to asbestos exposure. It mainly affects people working in the construction industry and armed forces, especially the navy. You could file a lawsuit for compensation if you got mesothelioma due to your employer’s negligence. 

It is very easy to look for an attorney that can help you file a lawsuit; for instance, if you got mesothelioma while working in the navy, just Google “attorney mesothelioma navy,” and you will get the required results. Go through the appeared websites and opt for the attorney you feel will best represent your case. 

Asbestos fibers can attack different organs inside your body. But the most frequent of all is your lungs. Pleural mesothelioma is the most diagnosed mesothelioma, accounting for 75% to 80% of the total diagnosis.

  • Contact Dermatitis 

According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), irritant and allergic dermatitis, also known as contact dermatitis, is a widespread cause of many skin diseases contracted on the worksite.

Dermatitis account for 15 to 20% of all work-related injuries in the US. The main industries hurt by this menace include the food and catering industries. 

Various physical, biological, and chemical agents cause dermatitis. Moreover, 40% of the cases of dermatitis are caused by food. 

Food items that can cause allergic reactions include flour and dough, spices, fish, vegetables, fruits, etc. 

The NIOSH also sites that people who contact dermatitis have chronic skin-related issues at the workplace. Often dermatitis results in itching, pain, flaky skin, dryness, and redness. Necessary treatments may include but are not limited to cool and damp dressings, steroid therapy, and antihistamines.

  • Occupational Asthma

Another most frequently occurring work-related disease is occupational asthma. It is imperative to mention that work-related factors are the major reasons in almost 15% of asthma cases. Patients with asthma have difficulty breathing, coughing, and face distress in the respiratory system. 

Workplaces are often inundated with irritants such as chlorine fumes and allergies associated with animals or some other material/particles. Most important is the dust and pollution in most workplaces. Some workers also develop asthma due to paint, insulation, and insecticides. Similar to causes, the effects can vary among individuals. Some people have a stronger reaction to irritants. In comparison, others with stronger immunities might show milder symptoms. 

However, in any case, constant exposure to harmful substances and smells leads to more severe and often permanent damage. The best way to avert occupational asthma is by taking preventive measures such as using protective equipment, including gloves, face shields, and masks. It is always better to contact immunologists or an allergist to discuss preventive measures and medications.

  • Hearing loss 

Hearing loss is another occupational condition. 

Common causes of occupational hearing loss include ototoxic chemicals and loud noises. Sometimes injuries and impacts can hurt the ear and cause hearing loss. The extent of hearing loss can range from mild issues in hearing to permanent impairment.  

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set 85 decibels as the Recommended Exposure Limit for people who work for eight hours or less. This set limit implies that a noise level beyond 85db is not healthy for the workers, and they should not be exposed to it.

Prevention is always considered superior to cure. Therefore, it is the responsibility of workers to avoid loud noises. At the same time, employers must not expose their workers to unhealthy noise levels. Other measures include providing proper ear protection. 

If your employer forces you to work in unhealthy conditions and get an injury such as hearing loss, you can always make a case against them in court, bring them before the law, and get the compensation you want. 

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

Musculoskeletal disorders, commonly known as MSDs, are prevalent in workplaces, even in offices. The risk of strain is high for office workers who sit at the computers and work for long hours, often in the wrong poses and body postures. They may have to experience carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis in severe cases. 

According to OSHA, MSDs occur due to awkward positioning, handling loads, high work demands, repetitive movements, and lack of breaks. 

Moreover, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services states that MSDs account for 43% of diagnosed work-related injuries. It is good and recommended to keep your health at the top-most priority to ensure a healthy life. 


Work-related injuries are not always fatal, but they can severely impact your personal and professional life. You might be disabled for the rest of your life or may have to stop working. It is the duty of employers to protect their employees against work-related injuries. And if an employee gets an injury due to an employer’s negligence, they should seek adequate legal help by opting for a personal injury attorney.

Hope this article is of help. Happy Reading.