Part 6 in Series on Longshoremen
Job conditions Longshoremen endure working on a ship, dock, coast, shore, or other U.S. waters and estuaries are risky and challenging. Longshoremen are exposed to hazards that can be seen and many that are unseen. Invisible dangers experienced over time, can show up much later as serious health issues that may or may not be detectable early.
Longshoremen may not be diagnosed with a respiratory illness from years of breathing diesel fumes or exposure to asbestos, or cancers because of exposure to toxic chemicals.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers Act
This is the final installment in a series on Longshoremen. Garfinkel Schwartz has a proud history of working with Longshoremen from around the world. John M. Schwartz, after whom this law firm was named, posthumously, was known for his work on behalf of longshoremen for 40 years in Titusville. Let our family fight for your family.
Don’t Fight Alone
Today, Garfinkel Schwartz continues to work with and for longshoremen and want to support the men and women who have families who need help. Don’t fight for your rights against the insurer without an attorney. You’re covered under the Longshore Act and have the rights to receive:
1. Attorney fees paid
2. Right to choose your doctor
3. Medical care
Garfinkel Schwartz understands that you probably don’t feel well. You may be injured, sick or both. No medical care, no compensation can wear you and your loved ones down. You can turn to us and we’ll work to take up your fight for you.
It’s not a question of how much it costs: You don’t pay. Even if Garfinkel Schwartz is unsuccessful, we’ll take all the risk and you won’t pay us. It’s covered under the law which was incepted to protect and care for the people who worked so hard for generations on our nation’s ports, docks, shores, coasts, rivers, oceans.
Lung Disease and Asbestos Issues
One of the unknown dangers that longshoremen face due to work on ships and in buildings with asbestos is lung disease. Asbestos is a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling the fibers released from asbestos, a material commonly used in decades past as insulation material. In ships, it was used to line fire boxes, around boilers and in other areas. Longshoremen who have been involved in shipbuilding and repair activities are vulnerable to breathing in asbestos fibers.
Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause scarring of the lung tissues, which in turn results in coughing, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, tightness of the chest and chest pain. As more and more tissue becomes scarred, the lungs can’t contract and expand normally and it can feel as if you’re being strangled. Asbestos victims also are at risk of lung cancer.
Longshoremen can contract other respiratory diseases after years of breathing in noxious gases such as diesel fuel, or dust produced by loading and unloading certain types of cargo like coal and iron ore.
Are Emphysema, Bronchitis Behind Your COPD?
Among the more common diseases are emphysema, which gradually damages the air sacs in your lungs making it harder and harder to breathe, and chronic bronchitis, which produces a constant cough and thickening of the air passages in the lungs. Both emphysema and chronic bronchitis are components of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The challenge is that many times your insurance company will not cover the tests needed to show that you have more serious conditions. The reason? If the employer’s insurance company discovers that you’ve acquired an illness due to the job conditions they’ll be forced to pay for your care.
Medical Evaluations Advanced by Garfinkel Schwartz
This is why Garfinkel Schwartz attorney Brian Wiklendt fights for your right to choose your own doctor. It’s the law. If you’re sick and unable to obtain medical care needed to go further into your condition to resolve the health problems, Garfinkel Schwartz will help to get your medical evaluation. Garfinkel Schwartz will advance your initial medical evaluations costs.
Besides exposure to dust and fumes, longshoremen also handle or can breathe in toxic chemicals, especially when there’s a large spill.
Though most packages and containers are secured, occasionally leaks happen. If the leaked material is a pesticide or herbicide, for example, the longshoremen might be exposed to cancer causing agents; if the spill contains car battery acid or ammonia, the chemicals can burn the skin.
If there’s a large oil spill, the toxins in the air or water can cause immediate illness. For example, benzene, an ingredient in crude oil, can cause dizziness, irregular heartbeats, unconsciousness or even death.
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, even if inhalation of chemicals doesn’t result in a chronic disease, it could produce a chronic condition that will mean repeat doctors’ visits, medical bills, discomfort and pain for the rest of person’s life.
Chronic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Chronic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, according to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, is a group of disorders that occur when there is “compression, injury to or irritation of the membranes and/or blood vessels in the lower neck and upper chest.”
These disorders also can cause tightness in the chest, impaired circulation and neck, shoulder and arm pain. Among the causes of Chronic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: stress and repetitive injuries from carrying heavy loads. It’s treated with physical therapy, medication and sometimes surgery.
Tinnitus isn’t really a disease in and of itself; it’s a symptom of an underlying cause such as hearing loss often related inner ear cell damage. The damage can be caused by constant exposure to loud noise – like the kind you Longshoremen hear on the docks.
There is no cure for tinnitus, but specialists try to manage it by treating the underlying causes or by using therapies to change a person’s reactions to it. For example, an audiologist, or hearing specialist, might use “sound therapies” which try to mask the sound inside your head with another real sound to make the first less noticeable.
High Injury Occupation
Longshoremen have one of the highest injury occupations due to potential dangers, not just from possible accidents, but from internal illnesses, that can appear after years on the job or even in retirement. For this reason, it’s always important to pay attention to unusual symptoms and creeping signs that there’s something wrong.
The sooner you seek treatment, the better your hope for recovery or management of your condition through annual exams, regular checkups and the immediate care for injury or illness on the job. Garfinkel Schwartz is located in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and Maitland, Florida.