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Smoke-related conditions can net workers' compensation benefits

More and more workplaces across the nation have become smoke-free since the dangers of second-hand smoke have become known. Also known as environmental tobacco smoke, it has all the harmful carcinogens as inhaled smoke, just at a lower level of concentration.

Those non-smokers in the workplace who were forced to breathe in smoke from others' cigarettes for extended times may just now be experiencing the deleterious health effects of ETS. As such, they may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

In order to be awarded monetary benefits for their smoke-related or smoke-exacerbated health conditions, it will be necessary to link past exposure to present ill health. One industry that was notorious for exposing employees to second-hand smoke is the service industry. Casino workers, bartenders and waiters and waitresses traditionally worked long hours in smoky venues. While the problem is not nearly as rampant now that strict no smoking laws are in place, for some employees, the damage from occupational diseases may already have been done.

In recent years, however, businesses have begun paying out workers' compensation claims based on exposure to ETS. If the employee was never a smoker, yet worked in smoke-filled rooms and is now struggling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (commonly known as COPD) or lung cancer, it is reasonable to assume the causal connection.

Workers coping with smoke-related conditions may be unable to work or only be able to work in a smoke-free environment. Employers must accommodate their needs or agree to pay them compensation.

If you are struggling with ETS-related illnesses and getting stonewalled by your employer when you submit claims for workers' compensation, it may be time to seek the counsel of a Maryland attorney who is familiar with the statutes and intricacies of employment law.

Source: FindLaw, "Smoking in the Workplace and Workers' Compensation," accessed May. 22, 2015

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