COVID-19 Updates: We are keeping our staff, clients and their family members safe and healthy. Our law firm is 100% operational, available in-person and 24/7 assistance by email and phone. Read More

Occupational groups at high risk of coronavirus infection

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on July 19th, 2020

Numerous people with a history of occupational or military asbestos exposure struggle with lung disease today, which increases their risk of contracting the new virus to a great extent. For this reason, they should follow a series of protective measures, such as wearing a face mask when outside, until the pandemic is over.

During the last century, over 27 million people were exposed to asbestos in the workplace, a naturally occurring mineral that was deemed a known human carcinogen by multiple national and international health agencies. Exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of serious diseases within 20 to 50 years, mostly affecting the lungs, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. Because individuals who struggle with underlying health conditions have a considerably higher risk of contracting the new virus, they should take extra precautions during the pandemic. Among the most vulnerable demographics are people who have lung disease, as it is a known fact that the coronavirus mainly targets the respiratory system. Those who struggle with a form of lung cancer are even more susceptible to infection with the novel virus, as the treatment they undergo, namely chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy, weakens their immune system to a great extent, which only increases their chances of contracting the coronavirus. You can contract the new virus in multiple ways, such as:

  • being in close proximity to people who are unknowingly carrying it
  • inhaling particles of the virus from the air
  • spending a long time in the hospital
  • talking with people who are carrying it without maintaining social distancing
  • being near a person who coughs or sneezes without a face mask

While lung diseases are mostly the result of tobacco smoking, a significant portion of these health conditions are caused by exposure to asbestos, which occurred either in the workplace or in the military. Between 1920 and 1980, over 75 industries made use of asbestos, as the mineral has numerous convenient properties, such as resistance to fire, electricity and various chemicals, and was also very cheap at the time. For this reason, approximately 20% of former industrial workers struggle with a disease as a consequence of occupational asbestos exposure today. Furthermore, 1.3 million construction workers are still exposed to asbestos in the workplace nowadays, as they have to remodel or demolish structures built before 1980 that contain asbestos. To make matters worse, they may also be exposed to 70 different toxic agents on the job in addition to asbestos. A study conducted by the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program found that nearly 40% of the construction workers who participated in it had some form of lung abnormality. Nevertheless, former construction workers are only one of the numerous occupational groups who are at high risk of developing lung disease and, thereby, of contracting the novel coronavirus.

What occupational groups are at high risk of contracting the new virus?

People who held down a job that involved working with asbestos and subsequently developed a form of lung disease are the most vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus. There are multiple occupational groups whose work tasks entailed handling asbestos during the last century and these are the individuals at the highest risk of infection with the new virus. The following are some of the occupational groups with lung disease who are the most susceptible to contracting the new virus:

If you had one of the occupations above, struggle with lung disease and experience a new onset of symptoms, such as a persisting cough, sore throat, fever, runny nose, fatigue, chest pain or difficulty breathing, please seek medical attention immediately, as you may have been infected with the coronavirus. Left untreated, infection with the new virus can be fatal to people who have underlying lung disease, as the virus takes a heavy toll on the respiratory system. However, timely treatment will considerably decrease the chances of losing your life to infection with coronavirus.

What lung diseases increase the risk of health complications if infection with coronavirus occurs?

Former asbestos workers struggle with a wide range of lung diseases, as once in the body, asbestos fibers attach themselves to the lining or the inside of the lungs, gradually causing inflammation and tissue scarring. These symptoms may lead, over the years, to the development of lung disease. Here are the lung conditions and diseases that place former asbestos workers at high risk of contracting the new virus:

Because the majority of people with cancer that affect the respiratory system have to regularly undergo treatment with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy, they have a great risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, as their immune system is very weak. If they are elderly, their chances of infection with coronavirus increase exponentially, as they may also struggle with other underlying health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure. Thereby, if you are a former asbestos worker who suffers from lung disease, you should take extra precautions during the pandemic, as your risk of developing serious health complications if you contract the virus is very high. Some of the complications of infection with coronavirus include:

  • severe muscle pain
  • heart attack
  • irregular heart rate
  • cardiogenic shock
  • fatigue
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome

Preventive measures against coronavirus for the victims of asbestos exposure who struggle with lung disease

If you struggle with lung disease, you must follow a series of protective measures to avoid infection with the new virus, which may be fatal to you, as your respiratory system is highly damaged and your immune system is weak. The following are the basic protective measures against coronavirus you need to follow until the pandemic is over as a person who has lung disease:

  • keep a distance of at least 3 feet from the people around you when you go outside
  • avoid leaving your house except for emergencies, such as purchasing groceries or visiting your physician
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • disinfect the objects and surfaces you frequently use on a regular basis
  • refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth if you have not previously washed your hands
  • watch or read the news concerning the coronavirus to stay up to date with the precautions you need to take to avoid contracting it

We provide quality legal assistance to victims of occupational or military asbestos exposure

If you are a former industrial worker or a veteran who struggles with lung disease as a result of occupational or military asbestos exposure, we strongly encourage you to contact our law firm, as you are eligible for compensation. After a thorough discussion with our attorneys, who have been pursuing toxic exposure cases for over 25 years, you will only have to send your lawyer your employment or military records and your medical records, documents that will stand as evidence to support your claim. The claim will be filed with the asbestos trust funds of the liable companies and, if you are a veteran, with the VA as well, since they also offer disability compensation and other benefits to veterans injured by asbestos exposure. Eventually, you will recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to for your lung disease from the responsible companies if you decide to work with our resourceful legal team. However, it is important to keep in mind that asbestos exposure cases have a statute of limitations of 3 years from the moment of diagnosis in the majority of states, which should prompt you to take legal action as soon as possible.