Fracking Workers: Could your symptoms be the warning signs of an occupational disease?

You haven’t been feeling well. You have a rash that won’t go away. You’ve been suffering severe headaches that make it hard to get out of bed. You are often out of breath. You barely have the energy to go to work.

You talk to your co-workers and find that many of them feel the same way. The normally athletic Doug hasn’t felt well enough to play softball in months. Twenty-six year-old Jim is wheezing after climbing a flight of stairs. Kevin’s girlfriend broke up with him because she is convinced his long-lasting rash is contagious. You know this isn’t normal.

You and your co-workers could be suffering from the early signs of an occupational disease. An occupational disease is an illnesses that is caused either by repeated, extended exposure to a toxic chemical  or a single exposure to that chemical.

Fracking Workers Are Exposed to Cancer-Causing Chemicals on a Daily Basis

According to a 2011 Congressional report, 650 of the 750 of the chemical compounds used in fracking fluids are human carcinogens. Recent NIOSH studies found that fracking workers are exposed to dangerous levels of lung damaging silica sand, radioactivity, and cancer-causing gasses. Long term exposure to any of these chemicals puts you at risk of cancer, lung damage, and other serious illness.

What can you do if you suspect an occupational illness?

Illnesses caused by exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace are covered under the workers’ compensation law. However, you must be able to prove that your job caused your symptoms. This can be hard to do, especially if your doctor can’t find a medical explanation for your symptoms.

It is important that you and your co-workers document your symptoms. Keep a notebook. When you experience a symptom, write it down. Include details about what you were doing that day. If you have a rash or swelling, take a picture.

Include notes about doctor visits, lab tests and any treatments that you’ve tried. This notebook will serve as documentation if you file a legal claim against your employer, so you want to add as much detail as possible.

Report your illness to your employer. Failing to report an injury or occupational disease to your employer can jeopardize your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, you should be prepared to have your claim dismissed. Expect to hear “You can’t prove that your headaches are caused by the job, but if you keep missing work, we may have to replace you.”

Should you Contact an Attorney?

If your employer dismisses your illness, contact a fracking injury lawyer. The attorneys at Ostroff Injury Law would like to hear your story. We can help you build your case for workers’ compensation. Call Fracking Injury Law at 855-880-6667 to schedule a free consultation.