Department of Energy (DOE) workers are often exposed to radioactive materials during their careers, including chemicals, radiation and heavy metals. Prolonged exposure to these materials has been shown to put workers at an increased risk of developing occupational diseases including chronic silicosis, beryllium illness and certain cancers.
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) was put into effect to aid workers in receiving compensation to cover medical costs.
Workers who were exposed to silica dust for a period of 10 years or more before symptoms appear may develop a non-malignant lung condition called chronic silicosis.
Preliminary signs of disease are most often caught by radiographers reviewing patients' chest x-rays. A formal diagnosis is only made after a computer assisted tomography, (CAT) image is taken or a lung biopsy is performed.
This condition is most often diagnosed after proliferation tests show that lung or blood cells have abnormally high beryllium lymphocyte concentrations.
In order to be eligible to receive compensation under EEOICPA for beryllium illness, a worker diagnosed post 1993 must provide certain proof of the condition. Federal regulators require claimants to submit axial tomography or biopsy results or exercise test results showing declined pulmonary function.
Patients diagnosed prior to that year must submit x-ray proof of abnormalities. A patient may also provide blood or skin test results showing a high concentration of beryllium in their body. Lung pathology test results, including those obtained by a medical provider performing obstructive or restrictive testing, may also clearly show that a patient has beryllium illness.
A worker exposed to certain cancers with five years of exposure to radioactive materials in the workplace may also qualify for compensation under EEOICPA. Stomach, esophagus, thyroid and pharynx cancers are some cancers that are common among energy workers. Ovarian, skin, breast, lymphoma and multiple myeloma are also.
What you can do
Medical conditions that energy workers are exposed to on the job can take significant time to develop. Whether or not you're able to get compensation for them under EEOICPA is contingent upon how soon after you're diagnosed with them that you file a claim. A Hardeeville energy worker illness can advise you of the statute of limitations in your case.