Employees falling ill from exposure to hazardous substances or dangerous toxins may apply for workers’ compensation benefits. As noted on the North Carolina General Assembly’s website, disability from an occupational disease classifies as an on-the-job accident even if an employee did not experience an actual crash, hit or fall.
Examples of serious medical conditions developing from contact with harmful substances include cases of lead poisoning. Employees exposed to lead may begin experiencing crippling headaches and joint or muscle pain. Other symptoms, such as high blood pressure or concentration problems, may prevent an individual from working.
An employee’s condition may require benefits
As noted by the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of lead poisoning generally do not appear until the bloodstream has accumulated a dangerous amount of lead. By the time the condition has developed to that point, the individual may require both medical treatment and time off from work.
To qualify for worker’s compensation, North Carolina’s employees must have had at least 30 days of exposure to lead products in the 12 months leading up to a disabling condition. Other occupational diseases, such as radiation or mercury poisoning, may qualify for benefits by providing a medical record noting the toxic substance that caused the condition.
Workers’ compensation serves as a no-fault insurance policy
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault law under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. To receive benefits, an injured employee does not need to show that he or she avoided an accident. Even when an employee did not exercise care and caution, employers have liability for illnesses and diseases caused by workplace hazards.
North Carolina employers must provide safety equipment and training to prevent exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. Regardless of the party at fault, employees may apply for workers’ compensation when a work-related medical condition develops or prevents them from working.