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Occupational illness rates highest for Connecticut workers

A new study issued by the University of Connecticut claims that Connecticut workers suffer more occupational illnesses at a rate that is higher than the national average. This study demonstrates the importance of the award of workers' compensation to workers in the state who suffer long-term illness from their occupations.

The state's occupational disease rate is 3.7 per 1,000 workers, according to the study. This is 8 percent above the national average. Farmington had the highest rate in the state at 15.3 percent per 1,000 workers. However, the number of these illnesses has fallen in Connecticut in 2012.

The study was prepared by a professor emeritus in community medicine at UConn, Timothy Morse. Professor Morse found that there were very high rates for heart attacks, carpal tunnel syndrome, lung disease, asbestos exposure and highly debilitating illness. Tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome were the most common medical diagnoses for musculoskeletal disorders. Workers' compensation reports indicated that lifting, pushing or pulling and the use of tools were the most common causes for musculoskeletal disorders.

The professor could not specify why the state's rate exceeds the national average. He speculated that Connecticut may be more proficient at diagnosing and reporting cases, its higher concentration of hazardous industries, higher productivity or longer work hours.

The state's rate declined in 2012. This was attributed to a lead paint ban and better work stations in offices, which reduce back and joint stress. However, thousands of many serious cases continue each year and many cases are not reported, according to Professor Morse.

This study demonstrates that Connecticut workers will continue to be exposed to occupational disease and other workplace injuries which may be persistent and long-lasting. Workers entitled to medical expenses, lost wages and other compensation may need representation to assure that there cases are properly litigated and that any settlement is reasonable.

Source: & newsobserver.com, "Study: Conn. Occupational illness tops US average," Sept. 1, 2014

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