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What jobs carry a high risk of cancer?

| Feb 26, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

In a past blog post, we discussed how Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws specifically protect firefighters whose cancer diagnoses relate directly to their job. And while firefighters face some of the highest risks of cancer in their line of work, many other jobs increase workers’ risk of getting cancer as well.

Which jobs have ties to higher risks of cancer?

Business Insider reported on a 2019 study which found that some of the jobs associated with the highest risks of cancer included:

  • Firefighters: Inhaling smoke and materials released from the heat can lead to several types of cancer. Additionally, diesel fuel fumes released on the fire ground and in the fire station also pose long-term risks. 
  • Pilots: Pilots face a higher level of exposure to UV radiation than many other jobs, which can increase the chance of skin cancer.
  • Painters: This job exposes workers to hazardous fumes and solvents daily, including benzene.
  • Rubber manufacturers: For years now, the rubber manufacturing industry has been tied to cancer because of the carcinogenic chemicals needed to make rubber and the vapors produced in the process of manufacturing.
  • Construction workers: Construction workers face a particularly high risk of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure in their line of work.

Can workers prevent cancer?

Even though there are no proven ways to prevent cancer, many workers have the power to significantly reduce their risk of cancer. It can help workers to:

  1. Learn about the known carcinogens and which ones might be in their workplace.
  2. Wear the proper protective gear at work, such as respirators.
  3. Make a point to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
  4. Avoid using tobacco, since it can significantly increase the risk of cancer.
  5. Start getting cancer screenings to catch any potential diagnoses early.

Being aware of the risks in one’s workplace and taking extra steps to stay safe at work can help workers prevent diagnoses of this devastating disease.

Firefighters facing work-related cancer have particular and unique rights under Maryland law, but workers who suffer from a work-related disease – such as cancer – can also obtain workers’ compensation (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment §9-502). Although it is a higher hurdle for non-public safety workers in Maryland to receive compensation for the work-related cancer, in such cases it is beneficial to consult an experienced attorney to discuss their options.

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