The rates of occupational illnesses in Minnesota are higher than the national average. The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses found that nearly 63,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses occurred in 2018. Those in transportation, utilities, education and health services and trade industries accounted for a large portion of the occupational illnesses.
Knowing the basics about common occupational illnesses in the state can enlighten employees on what to be cautious of and help employers create safer workplaces.
Skin disorders or diseases
Occupational skin diseases can take the form of contact dermatitis, frostbite, infections, skin cancers, infections and other skin injuries. These disorders are most often caused by contact with chemicals through inhaling aerosols, splashes, immersion or exposure on a contaminated surface.
In construction, manufacturing and service-sector workplaces, exposure to harmful chemicals is high. Employees work with these substances and as a result, may ingest, inhale or are otherwise exposed to the toxins. An example is occupational lead poisoning.
Exposure to loud noises or ototoxic chemicals causes occupational hearing loss. Noise becomes hazardous if it is loud enough that a person has to raise his or her voice to speak to someone three feet away. Ototoxic chemicals such as solvents and nitriles make ears more susceptible to hazardous noise and its damaging effects.
Occupationally-related lung diseases occur because of repeated and long-term exposure to certain toxins. Examples of occupational respiratory conditions are Black Lung Disease, asthma and asbestosis.
Using appropriate personal protection and re-designing the work process helps avoid risks leading to occupational illnesses and the damaging outcomes.