image of man working with chemicals

Workers’ compensation is a type of business insurance protecting companies from injury and illness claims from employees. Many people understand how injuries at work apply to this coverage. However, employees who suffer from an illness due to working conditions may also qualify. How can you determine if an illness qualifies for coverage?

What Is an Employer’s Duty?

As an employer, it is up to you to provide your employees with a safe place to work. This includes an area free from the risk of injury or illness. If someone falls and breaks an arm, your business often holds responsibility for the worker’s medical bills, lost time at work, and pain. The same generally occurs when a person becomes sick. If the conditions or duties of the job caused illness, that individual may be able to get workers' comp.

What Types of Illness and Disease Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Occupational illnesses are not uncommon. Workers’ comp will often cover any type of illness developed over time as a result of some exposure on the job. Some of the most common are life-threatening conditions. This includes black lung disease from mining work. It also includes asbestos-related illness in the construction industry.

The easiest conditions to prove are those where:

  • Exposure outside of work is rare
  • The individual can link the medical condition to the work environment

Infectious diseases can also be somewhat easy to prove. However, this depends on how rare the condition is. It is not possible to collect workers' comp from an employer for getting a cold from another employee. It is also not easy to prove the conditions are rare. Proving an employee developed cancer from a work environment can be difficult.

Why This Matters to Businesses

As a business owner, you need to ensure your employees have a healthy environment. By ensuring proper safety standards are present, you can do this. Most employers recognize the need for clean, sanitary conditions. Following OSHA guidelines for exposure to chemicals and materials is also important.

Workers' compensation insurance is there to help. This insurance protects an employer from the burden of paying for this type of illness. It is the type of policy employers need to have in place. Some states require it. A comprehensive workers’ compensation insurance plan will minimize most of these risks. It will also help to ensure employees have the financial help necessary. Yet, ensuring a location is safe is still the employer’s first responsibility.

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