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Workplace illnesses might take years to become apparent

Oftentimes on our Pittsburgh workers' compensation law blog, we discuss workplace injuries or construction accidents that leave workers in need of immediate care. However, a fall from a great height or some other kind of traumatic event represent only one kind of danger that a worker might face on the job.

A workplace illness might take years or even decades to make its presence known. The initial exposure might even go unnoticed to an employee, particularly if it is a routine part of his or her job. It might not be until after retirement that a person can connect an illness with work that they did in the past, often when occupational diseases weren't as well-understood as they are today.

One kind of serious illness that a worker could experience is beryllium pneumonosis. This disease comes about by exposure to beryllium, a metallic element, in the form of dust, vapors or other methods. Employees in a number of different fields might be exposed to beryllium, including those who work in industries such as metals extraction, electronics, and even the preparation of dental alloys.

Beryllium exposure can lead to lung disease. While it can have an immediate effect, it might take many years for the exposure to have an impact. People who suffer from beryllium-induced lung disease might experience extreme difficulty breathing, especially with any kind of exertion. These people might experience severe lung damage, in the form of scarring and thickening of lung tissue.

Nobody deserves to suffer from a disease brought on by their employment. People who have developed occupational diseases can work with attorneys who can advise them about their cases and their ability to seek compensation for their illnesses.

Source: National Organization for Rare Disorders, "Berylliosis," retrieved May 6, 2014

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