If you have work-related asthma, then you may be covered by workers' compensation in Wisconsin. It doesn't matter if you had the condition before you got the job or not; all that matters is that your job has aggravated the condition.
However, you must be able to prove that your job caused your condition or has made it worse before you can be compensated. Here is some information on work-related asthma and how to build a case for workers' compensation.
Understand Common Causes of Work-Related Asthma
Work-related asthma often happens when you develop an allergy after repeated exposure to chemicals or materials commonly used in your workplace. For example, if you are a nurse and use a lot of latex gloves, you may find that you have developed a latex allergy that causes asthma. Another example is if you already had asthma but the janitors in your workplace changed to a different cleaner and your asthma got worse.
Find Out If Your Asthma Is Work Related
The most obvious sign that your illness is work-related is that you only experience symptoms at work that subside the longer you're away from your workplace. Your symptoms get worse throughout the workday and may continue for several hours after you leave work before improving.
You're more likely to notice this pattern if you have taken an extended time off, such as a weekend or vacation, and were symptom-free until you returned to work.
See Your Doctor
Any time you have breathing problems or your asthma gets worse, you should see your doctor. He or she will ask you about your symptoms and try to pinpoint their reason. Since allergies and asthma are closely related, your doctor may also want you to take an allergy test. Be sure to get copies of all your medical procedures related to your case.
Notify Your Supervisor About Your Condition
If you think your condition is work-related, you must tell your supervisor as soon as you realize it has worsened or when you start receiving treatment. In some cases, there is a time limit to report occupational illnesses. If you don't do this step as soon as possible, it could hurt you in the future should you want to file a claim.
Your supervisor may ask you to file an accident or illness report. Be very specific with your details. This report could be used against you if you are vague or inconsistent.
Attempt to Reduce Your Risk of Work-Related Asthma
Because asthma is considered a disability by the Americans With Disabilities Act, your employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations so that you can continue working. These accommodations can include changing a chemical that is used in the workplace or providing similar alternative work in another location.
You can also reduce your risk by using tools such as special masks to filter out the asthma-causing particles.
Prepare Documentation for Your Case
Document everything related to your work-related asthma. Keep track of days you have symptoms, what you were doing, and what was happening around you. If you use an inhaler or other medication, document each time it is used. Make a note of any time you have spoken about your asthma to your supervisor.
A detailed record will help the claims administrator when he or she comes to investigate your claim, and it adds a sense of legitimacy to your complaint.
You have a right to be and stay healthy whether you're at work or not. If you notice you're having asthma symptoms at work or that your asthma symptoms have gotten worse, then you may have the basis for filing a workers' compensation claim.
The Law Office of Meier, Wickhem, Lyons & Schulz, S.C. handles all types of workers' compensation cases, including occupational illnesses such as asthma. Contact us for a consultation whether you are filing an initial claim or are appealing a denial.