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Why cancer is a real occupational hazard for many U.S. workers

The American Cancer Society estimates that during 2015, nearly 590,000 people in the U.S. will die from cancer-related complications and more than 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with some form of the disease. These staggering numbers solidify that cancer is among the most prevalent and deadly of all diseases in the U.S.

Today habits like smoking and materials like asbestos are known carcinogens. However, there are numerous other materials and chemicals that are readily used in the production of goods, products and foods of which their safety and potential hazards remain unknown. While workers in any industry or environment may be exposed to cancer-causing agents and materials, those who work in fields like construction and manufacturing are especially at-risk and vulnerable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "less than two percent of chemicals manufactured or processed in the U.S. have been tested for carcinogenicity." The CDC also estimates that as many as 10 percent of U.S. cancer cases are occupational-related. In an attempt to protect U.S. workers from suffering exposure to substances and chemicals that are known to cause cancer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established a set of standards with regard to safety and exposure.

Employers who fail to abide by the regulations, policies and restrictions outlined in OSHA's National Toxicity Program may be subject to fines and possible civil and even criminal prosecution. Workers who have been exposed to hazardous materials or chemicals and are subsequently diagnosed with cancer, have a right to receive workers' compensation benefits.

Workers' compensation claims involving occupational illnesses and diseases are often contested by insurance companies. It's wise, therefore, to seek the advice and counsel of a workers' compensation attorney who will fight for a worker's right to seek maximum compensation.

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