Sick Building Syndrome and its Effects on Brooklyn Workers

Sick building syndrome is the phenomenon of individuals becoming ill from unknown chemical, physical, or biological agents present in the buildings where they live and work. It is an occupational hazard that can reduce productivity by contributing to absenteeism within a workplace.

The only specific component to sick building syndrome is that it is caused by elements present in a building. It is not a specific health condition – workers can suffer from exposure to toxic fumes or lead poisoning as forms of sick building syndrome, each of which has unique symptoms and treatment methods. When an individual suffers from sick building syndrome at work, he or she can file a Workers’ Compensation claim.

How Do Construction Workers Develop Sick Building Syndrome?

Construction workers are often more exposed to harmful elements in buildings because when they are working, walls are open and toxic substances are exposed and in use. For example, opening the drywall in a building can expose workers to mold, which can cause respiratory infections.

A few elements that can cause sick building syndrome include:

  • Formaldehyde fumes;
  • Paint fumes;
  • Mold;
  • Natural gas fumes;
  • Lead; and
  • Poor air quality from accumulated dust and debris in air ducts.

Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome

Because sick building syndrome encompasses numerous conditions, there are no specific symptoms associated with the syndrome. Workers should research the occupational diseases associated with their specific types of work, such as the effects of poor air quality on HVAC workers.

There are no diagnostic tests for sick building syndrome, but the Environmental Protection Agency does have literature available for preventing sick building syndrome. Taking care to reduce exposure to paint fumes, lead, mold, and other potential toxins in a work environment by using appropriate safety gear like surgical masks and eye protection can prevent illness in workers.

What are the Compensation Implications of Contracting this Syndrome?

Workers affected by sick building syndrome can receive Workers’ Compensation. Like other types of occupational illness and workplace injury, workers suffering from sick building syndrome must follow the state requirements for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim in order to have their claims approved. This involves undergoing a medical examination by a doctor associated with the Workers’ Compensation provider and following his or her guidelines for recovery, such as staying out of work for a specified period of time or switching to a position that involves less exposure to the harmful elements temporarily or permanently. When a worker’s illness prevents him or her from returning to work, he or she can apply for permanent disability benefits.

Work with an Experienced Brooklyn Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you are suffering from the effects of sick building syndrome because of conditions present in your work environment, you could be entitled to receive a Workers’ Compensation package to cover your medical bills and certain other expenses associated with your illness. To learn more, contact The Robert A. Koenigsberg Law Office today to schedule your initial consultation with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer.

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