The Different Types of Occupational Diseases Explained
Occupational health and safety hazards include not just the risks of various injuries but those of long-term medical conditions as well.
In this post, we’ll take you through some of the most common occupational diseases along with their possible causes and signs and symptoms. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned here, we recommend you undergo a thorough medical check-up as soon as possible to have your condition diagnosed.
Occupational lung diseases
The lungs play a vital role in proper respiratory function, however, constant exposure to irritants and harmful agents in an occupational setting can lead to long-term lung disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asbestosis. If you experience the following symptoms for an extended period, you should undergo the relevant tests and scans to get to the bottom of the issue:
- Chest pain and tightness
- Breathing abnormalities
- Shortness of breath
Occupational lung diseases are typically diagnosed through tests like bronchial activity examination, biochemical studies of the fluids present within the lungs, and pulmonary function tests. People at risk of developing occupational lung diseases are mostly involved in industries such as construction, refining operations, animal care, food processing, manufacturing, and animal care.
Occupational lung diseases can be prevented by wearing protective masks and avoiding smoking. An occupational health expert can assess the risks of developing lung disease based on the conditions of a workplace.
Dermatitis is a medical condition that’s characterized by skin inflammation arising from exposure to one or more substances. When the condition is caused by the skin’s exposure to substances in a workplace, it is known as occupational dermatitis. An individual who develops the condition may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Skin swelling
- Skin stiffness or tightness
- Excessively dry skin
- Skin redness
- Constant itching and/or burning sensation
- Scaly patches on the skin
Occupational dermatitis can be triggered by an individual’s allergy to one or more substances present in the workplace. It can also be caused by an irritant. Some of the most commonly found irritants across workplaces in a wide variety of industries include chromium, nickel, formaldehyde, detergents, cutting oils, and industrial enzymes.
The industries where employees are at a risk of developing occupational dermatitis include metalwork, construction, textile manufacturing, detergent production, and painting. A workplace should be assessed thoroughly to understand the risks for employees. Companies should also provide their employees protective equipment in the form of gloves, footwear and masks to help prevent direct contact between skin and irritants.
Occupational musculoskeletal disorders
Industries that require their workforces to engage in lifting heavy weights and performing the same physical actions over and over again experience a variety of occupational musculoskeletal disorders. Some of the most commonly experienced occupational musculoskeletal disorders include conditions such as thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
The symptoms of these conditions are wide-ranging, but typically include the following:
- Muscle or joint stiffness
- Numbness in the affected area
- Severe pain in the affected area
If an employee develops a musculoskeletal disorder arising from his/her occupation, it may become difficult for the employee to continue working. Typically, those affected by such disorders have to undergo treatment and recovery before resuming work, which can also lead to psychological problems such as anxiety and stress.
The prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in a workplace depends on providing proper training to the workforce. For example, proper lifting techniques should be implemented in a workplace that requires its employees to handle heavy weights frequently. Employees should also take note of any painful sensations that they may experience from repeated actions and should rest whenever possible.
Occupational mental health disorders
Employees may develop occupational mental health disorders arising from traumatic and stressful experiences at their workplaces. Low job security and constant pressure to meet strict deadlines are some of the risk factors that may contribute to the development of such disorders.
Some of the commonly experienced occupational mental health disorders include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Preventing these mental health disorders is down to both employers and employees. Employers should refrain from putting excessive pressure on the workforce and employees also need to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
In conclusion to this post, we’d like to say that the diseases mentioned here aren’t the only diseases that employees are at risk of developing. To prevent the development of these conditions, employers need to be proactive in working with workplace safety consultants. These professionals can identify the risks and suggest measures that can be implemented to have a happy and healthy workforce.
For more information on the above occupational diseases, contact Care Net Consultants’ Occupational Health Nursing Practitioners for professional and knowledgeable assistance.