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Workers' compensation for serious contagious illnesses

From asbestos-related illnesses to stress disorders caused by factors on the job, there are many ways that Illinois residents may suffer from a work-related illness. How do infectious diseases factor in workers' compensation law? Is it possible to get compensation for a communicable illness, such as the flu, if it is going around the office?

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration states that certain types of contagious illnesses may qualify for workers' compensation. An illness that one can contract nearly anywhere, such as the flu or the common cold, is not considered to be a work-related illness - even if everyone on the job is suffering from aches and sniffles. However, other serious communicable diseases may qualify if it can be proven that the employee contracted the illness on the job.

To illustrate how a serious contagious disease may qualify for workers' compensation, it may help to look at the factors surrounding a rare illness, such as tuberculosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with compromised immune systems are the most likely to become infected with tuberculosis if they are exposed to it. Some of the risk factors may include the following:

  • A separate condition, such as diabetes or cancer, weakening one's immune system and creating a vulnerability
  • Certain medications that can compromise immunity
  • Other factors, such as living conditions, age or malnutrition, which may weaken the immune system

People who are exposed to serious communicable diseases in their work environment may also be at an increased risk. For example, those who work in the health care field or in residential care facilities may be exposed to tuberculosis. Workers' compensation may help cover the medical expenses and lost wages for those suffering from a communicable disease. However, it must first be proven that the disease was work-related.

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