Many workers in South Carolina fall ill after they are exposed to toxic substances on the job. According to government statistics, around 50,000 workers in the United States die each year because of work-related illnesses. In comparison, gun violence kills about 30,000 people each year. While shooting deaths draw a lot of public attention, deaths from work-related illnesses usually don’t make the news.
In an effort to bring the topic of work-related illnesses into the public consciousness, the Center for Public Integrity has published a series of investigative reports called ‘Unequal Risk.” The reports expose information about work-related illnesses, their causes and what is being done to prevent them. Many believe that work protection laws are not effective deterrents, as most worker safety violations only result in misdemeanor charges. An employer violates environmental protection laws, however, can be charged with felonies.
Workers are often exposed to toxic substances that the general public is not exposed to. Although the use of asbestos is mostly illegal, workers in the demolition and construction industries may be exposed to asbestos while taking old buildings apart. If workers are not provided proper protection from the invisible airborne asbestos fibers, they could develop deadly forms of cancer.
A worker who develops a work-related illness may not be immediately aware of the origin of their disease. Often, work-related illnesses develop gradually and don’t become apparent until the victims have retired. An attorney may be able to help a worker to gather evidence that shows that their illness was caused by toxic substances at work. By showing that there is a connection between an illness and work conditions, a worker may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits.