The illnesses most prevalent in this type of work are cancer, silicosis and beryllium disease. The diseases are usually caused by excessive and consistent exposure to silica, beryllium or radiation. Symptoms might include weakness, weight loss, shortness of breath, skin sensitization, coughing, chest pain and other respiratory problems. Chronic problems can affect not only the lungs, but also the kidneys, liver, heart and nervous and lymphatic systems.
Like any workplace injury or illness, employees with illnesses as a result of working with nuclear energy products should be covered under workers’ compensation. However, starting back in October 2000, the government enacted the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act as an addendum to workers’ compensation for workers in the energy field.
The EEOICPA has several parts and sections to it, which have been enacted throughout the last 15 years. Part B, for instance, was enacted as a compensation plan for employees or former employees — or survivors of former employees — who worked for the Department of Energy or energy-related facilities. Part E is a compensation plan for contractors or subcontractor employees (or survivors) of energy occupations or vendors, millers, uranium minors and even those who transport ore.
What should an employee or surviving spouse do to if they or their family member have been victimized with one of these diseases as a result of working with nuclear energy? You can research and contact an EEOICPA resource in your area, or just contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Workers’ compensation attorneys will be familiar with all of the current benefits available for these types of workplace diseases. They also usually work on a contingency basis and can ensure that your best interests are served.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, “US Department of Labor to assist current and former Pennsylvania nuclear weapons workers at traveling resource center in Kensington,” Ann Mangold or Laura McGinnis, July 09, 2015