What Should Workers Know about COPD Awareness Month?


The COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Foundation is making a push to bring awareness to the serious lung condition that affects millions of Americans. In fact, many people in this country are not even aware that they have it. The COPD Foundation has designated November as COPD Awareness Month, and workers and employers are taking notice.

What is COPD?

COPD is a lung condition that causes inflammation and respiratory issues. The symptoms of COPD are serious, but they are also treatable. COPD is more than just one specific condition. The term COPD is used to refer to any of several progressive lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and some types of asthma.

COPD is the fourth most deadly health condition in the United States, behind only heart disease, cancer, and strokes. In fact, COPD kills an American approximately every four minutes. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study claims that COPD kills more women than men, and teenagers are also at risk. Additionally, COPD costs about $50 billion in health care expenses every year in the United States.

What Causes COPD?

Long-term exposure to breathable toxins causes COPD. One main cause is smoking. People who have smoked cigarettes for years are the most likely to be diagnosed with COPD. However, second-hand smoke is also linked to COPD, even for children.

Another prominent cause is industrial exposure. People who work with airborne chemicals or irritants can develop lung issues that lead to COPD. Dust and fumes present in factories or on construction sites can be unsafe environments that expose workers to toxins. When workers are continually exposed to these irritants, their lungs can become damaged. As the damage builds up, their lungs can be irreparably harmed.

Information About the COPD Awareness Month Campaign

The COPD Foundation is planning events and operations to inform people about the lung condition, including bringing awareness about risks and health tips. Individuals are encouraged to take part by learning more and spreading awareness.

Below are some of the events and initiatives released by the COPD Foundation:

Online Resources and Events: The COPD Foundation is sponsoring community resources, health fairs, and online information sessions. Representatives for the organization will be available on social media to promote the awareness events and to answer questions, using the hashtags #BreathingBetterTogether and #COPDAwarenessMonth. Interested parties can find information for events being held in their local areas or find partners in their hometowns. The online presence also gives people a chance to learn more about risk factors that may affect them or their loved ones.

Encouragement to Talk to a Doctor: The awareness program is seeking to encourage individuals with symptoms, like wheezing or chronic cough, to get checked out by their doctors. The campaign hopes to convince these patients to get over their fears and take action. People should know that a COPD diagnosis does not have to mean a huge disruption in their life. In fact, a proper screening and diagnosis can allow them to see the positive in taking charge of their health in an effort to slow the progression of their disease. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the sooner the patient can take steps to improve symptoms.

Join the Movement and Wear Orange: Supporters of the campaign are being asked to wear orange to help the cause. A simple orange ribbon pin can help spread awareness and support the foundation’s efforts. Being asked about the significance of the orange ribbon can give advocates a chance to inform people of the importance of COPD awareness and potentially provide someone with life-changing information. Campaign representatives believe that whatever supporters can do to get people talking about COPD is a step in the right direction.

How are Workers Affected?

Employees should know that they may not have to stop working due to their COPD diagnosis. As long as the work itself is not a contributing factor to lung damage, accommodations can be made to ensure that they can continue working. Employers may be able to provide convenient parking spaces or work stations to help limit necessary exertion. Likewise, the employer should aim to provide a safe breathing environment that is free of smoke, dust, and dangerous fumes. A good ventilation system can also be helpful, along with policies for co-workers to avoid offensive perfumes or air fresheners.

Employers should protect all employees from dangerous airborne particles in their work environments. Taking actions to keep industrial air free of harmful substances will prevent against exacerbating the breathing issues for employees with existing lung conditions.

If a worker develops COPD or another lung condition because of toxins at work, they may be eligible to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits. Speaking to a lawyer after a diagnosis will help a worker understand their entitled benefits.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Employees with Occupational Diseases

Our Wilmington Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow have the experience to support injured workers. We understand that dangerous toxins can lead to occupational illnesses, and we will help you get compensation. Contact us online or call us at (302) 427-9500 for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.


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