Some types of work injuries are acute, and you can typically point to a single incident as the cause. Other types result from continuous exposure to hazardous conditions over time.
You can receive compensation for a work injury that occurs from long-term exposure just as you can for an acute injury. However, it can be more of a challenge to demonstrate that your work was the cause of the injury.
1. Repetitive strain injuries
Repetitive strain injuries include many musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions that can result when you perform the same physical actions over and over. Carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, tendinosis and bursitis are all examples of repetitive strain injuries that you may develop as a result of doing a physically demanding and repetitive job.
2. Hearing problems
Exposure to noises at 85 decibels or above can damage your hearing over time. Noises above 95 decibels can start to put your hearing at risk after less than an hour’s exposure. Examples of equipment that can reach 95 decibels include chainsaws, bulldozers and ambulance sirens. Even lawnmowers can reach noise levels of 85 decibels and can start to damage hearing after eight hours of exposure.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, pneumoconiosis is a respiratory condition that results from breathing in dust particles over time. The particles settle in your lungs, causing inflammation. The resulting scar tissue affects the lungs’ ability to expand and contract, making it more difficult for you to breathe.
It can take decades for symptoms of pneumoconiosis to emerge, but from that point, the condition is progressive, meaning that your symptoms get worse over time.
You and your employer can help prevent work injuries from long-term exposure by using better ergonomic practices and personal protective equipment.