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5 types of long-term injuries from repeated exposures at work

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Repeated exposures to harmful conditions at work can lead to long-term injuries. These injuries often develop gradually. They can have lasting effects on an individual’s health and ability to work.

Understanding these injuries is important for those navigating the workers’ compensation process.

1. Respiratory illnesses

Long-term exposure to harmful substances such as dust, chemicals and fumes can lead to serious respiratory illnesses. Workers in industries such as construction, mining and manufacturing are particularly at risk. Conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and silicosis are common respiratory illnesses resulting from workplace exposures. These conditions can cause severe breathing difficulties and reduce lung function over time.

2. Hearing loss

Industries such as construction, manufacturing and music often have workers exposed to high levels of noise. Prolonged exposure can damage the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing loss. This type of injury can affect communication and quality of life.

3. Skin conditions

Prolonged exposure to certain chemicals, solvents and irritants can cause chronic skin conditions. Workers in occupations such as cleaning, hairdressing and health care may develop dermatitis, eczema, chemical burns and other conditions. These skin problems can cause persistent itching, pain and scarring. They may become worse over time without proper treatment.

4. Musculoskeletal disorders

One common type of long-term injury from repeated work exposures is musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs affect the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints and cartilage. Repetitive motions, overexertion or awkward postures often cause them. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and chronic back pain. These conditions can significantly impair a person’s mobility and strength, making everyday tasks challenging.

5. Cumulative trauma disorders

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) develop from repeated strain on specific body parts. These injuries often result from repetitive tasks, vibrations or sustained positions. Examples include bursitis, rotator cuff injuries and epicondylitis (tennis elbow). CTDs can lead to long-term pain, weakness and reduced range of motion.

Understanding the gradual development and long-term impacts of these workplace injuries is important for workers’ compensation applications. It allows employees and medical professionals to document and link symptoms accurately to workplace conditions. This documentation is necessary for substantiating workers’ compensation claims.