Employers need safeguards and operating procedures that minimize the risk of COPD for their workers. Those in high-risk occupations also need to take care to protect their respiratory health.
North Charleston, S.C. (PRWEB) November 27, 2012
Charleston workers’ compensation attorney Ken Harrell today praised the efforts of the U.S. COPD Coalition in raising the profile of the deadly medical condition known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease during National COPD Awareness Month.
“COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., yet it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Many people -- including those most at risk -- may not be aware of the dangers,” said Harrell, the managing partner of Joye Law Firm, which represents South Carolina workers’ compensation claimants.
The U.S. COPD Coalition sponsors National COPD Awareness Month each November to assist and encourage communities and organizations to make the public more aware of the dangers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The publicity and education campaign is called COPD Learn More Breathe Better®, and a free COPD resource kit is available as part of the campaign.
COPD is a medical term that refers to a series of different lung diseases that make breathing difficult. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that there are two main forms of COPD. The first is chronic bronchitis, characterized by a persistent mucus-filled cough. The second is emphysema, which causes the lungs to deteriorate over time. Most patients who have COPD have a combination of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and some also develop other lung diseases as well.
In addition to breathing problems, COPD can also cause respiratory infections and fatigue. There is no cure, and COPD is considered a long-term chronic condition that worsens over time. Sadly, the disease results in the death of 120,000 Americans each year. As the NIH reports, that is one death every four minutes.
Tragically, many victims of COPD develop the condition as a result of exposure to chemicals, dust, fumes and other air pollutants in the workplace. Occupations that create a special risk of developing lung conditions include coal miners, cotton fiber workers, hard rock miners, tunnel workers, concrete manufacturers and other industrial workers. However, any worker who regularly spends the workday in a setting where fibers, dust or chemicals are inhaled is at risk, Harrell said.
“Employers need safeguards and operating procedures that minimize the risk of COPD for their workers. Those in high-risk occupations also need to take care to protect their respiratory health.” he said.
“When you have COPD, it changes your life,” Harrell said. “You may have a chronic cough and you may have a hard time breathing or performing simple daily tasks. All of these health problems will become worse over time.”
Harrell urged those who are experiencing shortness of breath and other COPD symptoms to visit a doctor. As many as 12 million new COPD cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year through a simple breathing test called a spirometry. Unfortunately, many people don’t seek medical help, and many cases -- as many as 12 million more -- remain undiagnosed.
“There’s no cure, but seeing the doctor is still important as there are ways to manage the condition. Medication is available, and you can enroll in a pulmonary rehabilitation program,” Harrell said.
If your COPD was caused by workplace exposure to lung irritants, you may be entitled to benefits through the South Carolina workers’ compensation system. Workers’ compensation benefits could cover your treatment costs, including ongoing expenses associated with pulmonary therapy and medication. South Carolina workers’ compensation could also provide disability benefits for COPD victims who developed their condition due to workplace exposure.
Harrell urged COPD patients to consult with a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney if they believe their disease is linked to conditions in their workplace.
About Joye Law Firm
Since 1968, Joye Law Firm has aggressively represented injured and ill workers, including private sector and public sector employees, throughout South Carolina. The firm’s practice areas include workers’ compensation, Social Security disability and a variety of personal injury claims, including car accidents, birth injury, brain injury, defective products, drug injury, motorcycle accidents, nursing home abuse, spinal cord injury, truck accidents and wrongful death. The Joye Law Firm has offices in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, and its dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to travel anywhere in South Carolina, including North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Goose Creek, Summerville, and Moncks Corner to assist injured workers. The firm’s Charleston-area office is located in the Northgate Office Building, 5861 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29406 (local phone (843) 554-3100). To learn more, contact the firm by calling (888) 324-3100 or by filling out its online contact form.