Injuries at work are unavoidable. Workers in Illinois and elsewhere get hurt on average every seven seconds. You can do things to try and prevent yourself from getting hurt while lifting. You can use special care while walking on a slippery floor. What workers can’t prepare for are airborne disease and bacteria that they can’t see and don’t know is there. Unfortunately, occupational related illnesses cause untold amounts of damage.
An occupational illness is any illness whose cause can be attributed to an employee’s workplace environment or conditions. There are quite a few different types of occupational diseases: however, some are far more common than others.
Let me introduce Legionnaires Disease: It is a type of pneumonia caused by a bacterium known as legionella pneumonphila. Although the disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other body parts, including the heart. It is less common than other types of occupational illnesses, however, it can quickly spread among other workers. According to CDC close to 5,000 people contract this illness annually, and approx. one in ten people who suffer from this disease will die.
Legionnaires’ Disease is no stranger to Illinois. The state of IL reported 510 cases last year and confirmed 242 so far in 2019. The most commonly known case happened in 2015, when a state-run veteran’s home in Quincy, IL had an outbreak resulting in 66 residents and 8 employees/volunteers of the facility having tested positive for legionella in addition to 13 related deaths. When it hits, it usually hits hard.
Workers can contract this disease when they inhale these bacteria in tiny droplets of water, such as vapor or mist, which can be present in the air. The disease does not spread from one person to another, but it can quickly infect many workers since the bacteria is in the air that all people in the same building are breathing.
When favorable conditions exist for the growth of the Legionella bacteria, man-made water systems seem to be the most likely source of the disease. Workers most risk is those who work in sealed buildings, particularly those who maintain air conditioning systems or water-cooling towers. If the germs become airborne, anyone within the building can become infected. Claims are typically made by individuals who develop flu like symptoms or pneumonia working in a hospital, nursing homes, grocery stores, or office buildings. You might also get it as a traveling employee staying in a hotel.
A serious illness such as Legionnaires’ Disease can prevent you from returning to work, and without pay, you may struggle to support yourself and your family. If your illness has a direct link between the work environment and the disease it’s important to have an attorney in your corner that not only understands Illinois work comp laws, but also understands this illness. It can literally be the difference between winning and losing your case.
If you’d like a free consultation with an attorney, fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5578. We help with work injury cases everywhere in Illinois.