As in other states, North Carolina requires that most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance to ensure that employees receive financial assistance in case of a job-related accident, injury or illness.
However, sudden injuries are only part of the picture. From construction and manufacturing to health care and law enforcement, in many cases the hazards of the job itself may put employees at greater risk for developing potentially debilitating, chronic conditions related to repetitive, high-strain or high-stress tasks.
1. How does the law define “occupational injury”?
Under North Carolina workers’ comp law, an injury that occurs during the normal course of job duties may not be coverable unless due to an unexpected or unusual workplace accident.
However, some occupations carry a much higher risk of injury than others. NC workers in jobs that expose them to potentially hazardous or unhealthy conditions may be able to receive WC benefits if frequent, day-to-day tasks put their health at risk.
2. What are some examples of occupational injures?
From nurses who may need to lift, adjust or otherwise assist immobile patients to construction workers who may face equipment or other site hazards, employees across many industries may experience an occupational injury. Examples include:
- Skin, respiratory or other exposure to potentially toxic and/or cancer-causing substances, such as asbestos, benzene, lead, chlorine or ammonia
- Joint, tendon, muscle or spinal conditions related to repetitive workday tasks, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and other musculoskeletal disorders
- Hearing or visual loss due to excessive noise, light or chemical exposure
3. When should an employee seek occupational compensation?
It may be months or even years before an occupational injury begins to impact a worker’s health. Employees suffering from work-related conditions may want to inform their supervisor of potential issues as soon as possible after receiving a diagnosis from an insurance-approved physician.