You’ve always enjoyed your work, but over the last year or two, you’ve found that you’ve been getting short of breath while on the job. You work with cars and other vehicles, so on those days, you assumed you were just dealing with exhaust inhalation or other problems, got some fresh air and went home to rest.
Over time, the tightness in your chest has gotten worse, and the issue seems to be happening more often. Should you speak with your employer? What could be going on?
In this case, you should talk to your employer about occupational asthma as well as other work-related conditions due to exposure to toxins. If you have developed occupational asthma or another illness related to fumes or exhaust, you should be able to seek workers’ compensation and the coverage you need to get medical treatment.
If you’re diagnosed with occupation asthma, treatments may be available
The good thing about asthma is that it can largely be controlled. However, initially, it may take time to figure out which medications work for you.
Additionally, you may need to ask your employer for some changes and reasonable accommodations to be able to return to your work if it continues to set off your symptoms. For example, if you’re working regularly with cars in an enclosed area, you may need to discuss opening doors, getting specialized fans or working outdoors rather than being so heavily exposed inside. If that’s not possible, wearing specialized personal protective equipment, like masks that filter smoke or dust, might be helpful for you.
Workers’ compensation will give you the time you need to figure out what’s wrong and recover. Initially, you may want to reach out to your employer to let them know about your condition and to tell them that you’re seeking medical care. Then, when you speak with your doctor, let them know that you think your condition may be linked to your work environment. Your doctor will review your case and decide if your work could be playing a role in your health condition.
If so, you may be able to get your medical care covered, treatments paid for and time off covered through workers’ compensation.