Victims of mesothelioma — or any workplace illness, for that matter — should understand that they are very likely eligible to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. Most companies in North Carolina and across the U.S. are required to carry this type of insurance and this money is available to people who get injured or sick in the course of their employment.
Many people get a little confused when it comes to workers’ compensation and unsafe work conditions that involve the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Some people believe that there must be an OSHA violation or report filed in order for workers’ compensation to be available. However, while the two events may come hand-in-hand (especially in cases involving asbestos), they are two separate issues.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available to workers who have gotten sick due to workplace conditions. This does not necessarily mean that the conditions need to be poor or dangerous; they only need to have contributed to or caused the illness.
OSHA does often get involved when workers get injured or sick on the job if the condition is serious or fatal, or if there is reason to believe that a dangerous condition does actually exist that needs to be addressed.
In regards to asbestos-related illnesses, a report to OSHA may be filed when workers file for compensation. This is because there are strict regulations in place to keep workers from being exposed to asbestos. If a worker is exposed or gets sick, there is a very good chance that it is because there was a failure to comply with safety standards.
However, there does not need to be an OSHA violation to justify a claim for workers’ compensation. In fact, any investigation by OSHA will typically follow reports of employee illnesses. The agency may then issue fines for violations of workplace safety standards, but these penalties are completely separate from workers’ compensation benefits.
Any worker who has questions about workplace safety or workplace illnesses has the right to explore all the options available. With the help and support of an attorney, it can be possible to pursue maximum compensation for injuries or illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos.
Source: Chron, “What Makes a Worker’s Compensation Injury OSHA Reportable?” Jack Gordon, accessed on April 14, 2015