Respiratory Disease

Traumatic injuries can occur as the result of impact to the body. Other conditions, called occupational diseases, develop over time as a result of conditions at work. Exposure to workplace irritants, such as dust, fibers, smoke, sprays, and vapors in a variety of industries can lead to debilitating respiratory diseases that impact a person’s quality of life and ability to maintain employment.

According to the American Lung Association, occupational lung disease is the most common occupation-related illness facing workers throughout the United States. In most cases, workers are in contact with hazardous agents over a long period, but for others, one-time exposure to a toxic agent leads to disease.

Understanding Occupational Respiratory Disease

The American Lung Association defines occupational lung diseases as conditions caused primarily by environmental factors on the job, including single or long-term exposure to hazardous agents. With smoking, the severity of these conditions increases significantly.

Occupational respiratory diseases include:

  • Asthma: A condition where the airways narrow and create extra mucus, making it hard to breathe
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: An umbrella term for a group of lung diseases that make it increasingly difficult to breathe
  • Influenza: A viral infection which attacks the respiratory system
  • Lung cancer: Cancer that begins in the lungs and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the country
  • Mesothelioma: Incurable cancer in the tissue surrounding the lungs and other parts of the body
  • Pneumoconiosis: Caused by breathing particles, such as asbestos, coal dust, and free crystalline silica, which leads to scarring on the lungs and potential cancer
  • Pneumonia: Infection in the air sacs of one or both lungs

While many of these respiratory diseases are highly treatable, others are permanent and even fatal. The best treatment for these conditions is prevention. Protecting workers from exposure to hazardous agents is an employer’s responsibility. Precautions for preventing job-related respiratory disease include proper ventilation, masks, respirators, and extensive first aid and safety training at every level.

Recognize the Signs of Occupational Respiratory Disease

Workers who become injured on the job may know how to seek medical attention for obvious injuries like lacerations and broken bones. Because respiratory disease symptoms are more subtle, they may be overlooked or mistaken for something as simple as a common cold. All workers exposed to hazardous agents in any capacity should know the signs and symptoms of respiratory disease, which include:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry, scratchy, or sore throat
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Runny nose

It is important for workers to record their symptoms, report them to their employer at the first sign of concern, and seek the appropriate medical care. All these steps are important should the worker choose to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits related to their job-related respiratory disease.

South Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Handle Respiratory Disease Claims

Without proper safety protections and policies, respiratory disease victims are left to suffer serious, life-altering health problems. South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP advocate for workers impacted by respiratory disease and other occupational illnesses. For smart legal guidance during every step of the claims process, call us today at 856-761-3773 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation today. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the City of Camden.

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Coronavirus COVID-19 UPDATE:
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Coronavirus COVID-19 UPDATE:

Please be advised that in accordance with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107, which imposed strict limitations on the operations of "brick-and-mortar" businesses and required telecommuting to the greatest extent possible, all N.J. workers’ compensation courts will continue to be closed to the public and to non-essential court personnel until April 13, 2020.

In response to overwhelming requests from the Workers’ Compensation Bar to hold non-emergent matters electronically or by teleconference, as of April 6, 2020, the following Workers’ Compensation Judges shall be designated by the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the N.J. Division of Workers’ Compensation as essential personnel and shall report to their home vicinages for the purpose of hearing as many Workers’ Compensation matters as possible by telephonic conferencing, including all emergent matters and the following non-emergent matters, pre-trial conferences, general motions for medical and temporary benefits, and settlements by affidavit:

Hon. Audrey Kernan, S.J., Atlantic City WC Courthouse
Hon. Arthur Marchand, A.S.J., Bridgeton WC Courthouse
Hon. Ingrid French, A.S.J., Camden WC Courthouse
Hon. Lionel Simon III, A.S.J., Freehold WC Courthouse
Hon. Diana Ferriero, S.J., Hackensack WC Courthouse
Hon. Jill Fader, S.J., Jersey City WC Courthouse
Hon. Glenn Kaplan, S.J., Lebanon WC Courthouse
Hon. Michael Luther, S.J., Mt. Arlington WC Courthouse
Hon. George Geist, S.J., Mt. Holly WC Courthouse
Hon. Ashley Hutchinson, A.S.J., New Brunswick WC Courthouse
Hon. Philip Tornetta, A.S.J., Newark WC Courthouse
Hon. William Roca, S.J., Paterson WC Courthouse
Hon. Maria Del Valle Koch, S.J., Plainfield WC Courthouse
Hon. Eugene Mulvaney, S.J., Toms River WC Courthouse
Hon. David Puma, S.J., Trenton WC Courthouse

The Division’s plan is to limit physical interactions in our workers’ compensation courts to the greatest extent possible and shift to the use of telephone conferencing, and if possible video conferencing for judges, attorneys, and litigants. There will be no in-person Workers’ Compensation Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing motions for medical and temporary benefits and trials in which case social distancing will be enforced). Court offices will remain closed for in-person submissions. Filings will continue to be accepted electronically through COURTS On-line.

The N.J. Division of Workers’ Compensation’s number one goal is to limit the exposure and spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus to court personnel, attorneys and their staff, litigants, witnesses, and members of the public at large.

Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP also continues to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and its impact on our local community and the world at large. In accordance with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107, our office is closed and the members of the firm continue to work remotely. As such, the members of the firm may have limited access to information during this time. We continue to appreciate your understanding. We encourage our current clients, new clients, and fellow members of the bar to contact us via e-mail as that remains the best form of communication. All attorneys and paralegals have access to e-mail and case information. We have designated essential personnel to report to our office for the purpose of handling emergent matters only and to complete essential administrative tasks. Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP remains committed to complying with all health and governmental regulations. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those most affected by this situation.