When most people think of workplace injury they immediately think of accidents causing physical injury. While these accidents certainly happen, there is another type of workplace injury that is a very real threat for workers in many industries – occupational disease.

An occupational disease is an illness that develops as a result of workplace conditions or a workers exposure to something in the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common occupational diseases are:

Irritant and Allergic Dermatitis

Dermatitis is the most common occupational disease. This skin disease accounts for 15-20% of all occupational diseases reported. Irritant and allergic dermatitis occurs as a result of exposure to an agent or substance that causes an irritation or allergic reaction. Some of the most common causes of dermatitis include:

  •         Solvents
  •         Latex
  •         Pesticides
  •         Flavoring agents
  •         Disinfectants
  •         Formaldehyde
  •         Resin
  •         Dyes
  •         Nickel

Asthma and COPD

The CDC estimates that as many as 30% of cases of adult chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma may be related to occupational exposure. These occupational diseases impact at least 20 million workers in the U.S. The leading causes of occupational lung diseases are:

  •         Biological dust
  •         Pesticides
  •         Grain and flour dust
  •         Mineral dust
  •         Silica dust
  •         Welding fumes

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are a risk among workers in healthcare, laboratories, emergency services, law enforcement, corrections and social services. These individuals often come into contact with bodily fluids during the course of their work. This puts these individuals at risk for:

  •         Tuberculosis (TB)
  •         Hepatitis B and C
  •         Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  •         Respiratory infections
  •         Influenza

Musculoskeletal Disorders

There are various disorders and diseases that can impact the musculoskeletal system. Some of these disorders and diseases are the result of trauma, while others are the result of long-term repetition or overexertion. These disorders include:

  •         Carpal tunnel syndrome
  •         Tendinitis
  •         Tenosynovitis
  •         Low back disorders