Many people suffer minor allergic reactions to everything from pets to food ingredients. Others suffer severe allergic reactions to these and other triggers. While we can control our environment at home, we can’t always control it in the workplace.
What happens if you suffer an allergic reaction to something at work? It could be something you didn’t even know you were allergic to, like latex in gloves, a chemical used in cleaning another type of product you work with or even pet dander brought in on a colleague’s clothing.
It likely depends on the severity of the reaction
If you suffer a severe allergic reaction that requires you to seek medical treatment and keeps you out of work for a time, you may be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The same is true if you have asthma, and an irritant in the workplace causes a serious attack. In fact, it’s been determined that occupational asthma results in over 24 million missed days of work in this country alone every year.
Seeking reasonable accommodations for your allergies
Employees may have the right to seek reasonable accommodations to put some distance between them and the irritants that set off their allergies or asthma under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This could be as simple as moving someone away from a colleague who brings in cat dander and fur on their clothing or whose daily peanut snack leaves them gasping for breath. When their job requires them to work with something to which they’re allergic, they may need to move to a different job.
The potential challenges of seeking workers’ comp for an allergic reaction
Getting workers’ compensation for an allergic reaction to something in the workplace can be tricky. For example, if you know you can go into anaphylactic shock if you’re anywhere near peanuts and you don’t notify your employer so they can take proper precautions, you may have some challenges.
It can also be difficult to prove that you were exposed to an irritant at work and not somewhere else unless it’s something you’re not around anywhere else and/or you suffered the reaction at work. This doesn’t mean you can’t seek workers’ comp benefits for medical bills and/or lost wages. It may help to seek legal guidance if you’re having difficulty being able to file a claim or having your claim approved.