A Look at Occupational Medical Conditions

A member of the Oklahoma County Medical Association and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, William D. Jones, MD, is a dedicated medical doctor who operates a private practice in Oklahoma City, OK. In his practice, William D. Jones, MD, focuses on medical conditions affecting workers.

An occupational disease is any harmful condition or disorder acquired due to the nature of one’s job as a result of physical activity involved and the work environment. Some common occupational conditions are dermatitis, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory illnesses, cancer, and hearing loss.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), contact dermatitis accounts for roughly 15 to 20 percent of occupational diseases recorded in the U.S. Characterized by an itchy rash, it occurs when the body is exposed to allergens, whether they be physical, biological, or chemical agents.

Musculoskeletal disorders from work are typically caused by repetitive body movements, awkward positions, and a lack of breaks. Common examples are tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Some workers breathe in dangerous chemicals while at work. These chemicals have adverse effects on the respiratory tract and can cause diseases of the lung, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers in Canada, more than 300 dangerous materials can be inhaled at work.

Occupational cancer results from exposure to cancer-causing substances, called carcinogens, at work. A typical carcinogen example is asbestos. Asbestos exposure can cause different types of cancer, including lung and gastrointestinal cancer.

Workers in sectors that use machinery that produces dangerous sounds are vulnerable to hearing loss. According to NIOSH, the construction industry, manufacturing industry, and mining industry are high-risk sectors for hearing loss. Appropriately using personal protective equipment (PPE) against dangerous sounds helps mitigate this risk.


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