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Is work-related mental illness covered by workers' compensation?

Many Missouri workers suffer physical injuries while they are on duty, and it is the responsibility of employers to ensure no known safety hazards are present. Although not as common as physical injuries, a worker can suffer a work-related mental illness that may have severe financial consequences. Fortunately, psychological or mental illness is covered to some degree by workers' compensation as an occupational illness.

Occupational illness: Work-related asthma widespread in Missouri

The general health of many workers in Missouri is adversely affected by their occupations or their workplace surroundings. Sometimes a worker is exposed to health hazards that may lead to an occupational disease, but it is not uncommon for a worker to have an existing illness that is exacerbated by conditions at his or her workplace. The results from a 2012 study of information gathered from workers in 22 states by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 23 percent of Missouri workers suffer from work-related asthma.

Chemical that causes lung disease not regulated by OSHA

Owners of Missouri factories where chemicals are used in the production process have a duty to inform all employees of the health risks they face. Working in environments where hazardous chemicals are present can have devastating consequences for unprotected workers. One chemical that has been known to cause respiratory problems and lung disease is not included among the regulated chemicals listed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Occupational disease threats are present in many industries

As a follow up to the blog post about dangerous carcinogens posted on Feb. 10 ("Chrome plating may lead to development of an occupational disease"), workers in other industries may not be aware of similar threats that may be present in their work environments. Workers in all industries in Missouri and elsewhere have the right to be informed of any hazards that may cause an occupational disease. In many cases, work-related illnesses are diagnosed years later and are often not linked to the patient's occupation.

Chrome plating may lead to development of an occupational disease

Business owners in Missouri have many responsibilities related to the safety of their workers. In addition to following the safety regulations that are prescribed by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers should inform their employees of potential threats that may cause an occupational disease. Many workers develop an illness such as cancer many years after being exposed to carcinogens of which they may not even have had knowledge of at the time.

Missouri workers' compensation laws may include mental illness

Workers' compensation claims are usually a result of work-related accidents that result in injury. These injuries often hinder Missouri workers from performing their job duties. Now, a workers' compensation proposal is being reviewed that would not only cover physical injuries, but also mental illness.

Missouri man's lungs damaged by gas leak at work

Readers who follow workers’ compensation issues in Missouri may already know that most awards for cases of work illness and injury are capped at certain amounts. However, state law makes an exception for chronic conditions that develop over time. People claiming this sort of workplace injury may bring their case in civil court, outside the Missouri workers’ comp system. This means that the damages awarded may be significantly larger, possibly closer to the harm the plaintiff actually suffered.

Missouri legislation promises some relief for disabled workers

There are 1,381 Missouri disabled workers on a waiting list to receive benefits for workplace illnesses or injuries for claims that are more than a year-and-a-half old. An additional 30,991 claims still need to be processed and resolved as well. It was in response to this situation that Missouri's Governor Nixon placed his signature upon legislation that would increase charges to businesses in order that this fund could again become solvent.

Kelly Law Office, P.C. • 134 N. Water St. • Liberty, MO 64068
Map and Directions • Phone: 816-760-2174 • Fax: 816-760-2001

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