Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is Skin Cancer Covered by Workers’ Comp. in Minnesota?

That’s a tough question. While skin cancer, in some instances, could arguably be an occupational disease that was substantially caused by a workers’ sun exposure at work, the difficulty is in proving the medical causal relationship between the skin cancer and the work activities.

While there are a few cases in other states awarding benefits for work-related skin cancer, I’m not aware of any case law in Minnesota awarding workers’ compensation benefits for skin cancer as a result of a workers’ exposure to the sun. Please, if I am incorrect, and you are aware of a case awarding benefits, let me know by emailing me or posting a comment below.

In my opinion, some factors that would come into play in determining the compensability of sun-exposure related skin cancer would include:
  •  The strength of medical causation opinions, both for and against. 
  • The length of time the employee worked in an occupation involving sun exposure. 
  • Alternative personal risk factors, including smoking, family history, etc. 
  • The location of the skin cancer, i.e., did it develop in a particular spot that is always exposed to the sun as a result of work activities? 
  • Other sun exposure history, i.e., outdoor recreational activities, tanning, sun bathing, etc. 
Sun exposure is without question, a cause of skin cancer, whether that exposure is during work hours, or outside of work hours. Because it is so difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of skin cancer in terms of which period of sun exposure caused the cancer to develop, workers who develop skin cancer are probably going to have a difficult time in establishing these occupational disease claims for purposes of Minnesota workers' compensation coverage.

Regardless of whether skin cancer is covered under workers’ compensation or not, it is preventable. Employees who work outdoors should always take precautions to avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • If possible, avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm. 
  • Apply high SPF sunscreen prior to sun exposure, and re-apply often. 
  • Wear a hat and a long-sleeve shirt. 
  • Wear sunglasses. 
For a free, no-obligation Minnesota workers' compensation case consultation contact Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.


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