Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, is a disease that develops and worsens over time. While many people can contract COPD from smoking, people who are exposed to fumes, chemicals, and other irritants in the air may be at risk of developing this lung disease. Examples of exposure from work would be firefighters or airline tarmac workers.

COPD is a form of an occupational disease that can be covered under workers’ compensation benefits if the requirements for Virginia law are met. If you have been diagnosed with COPD as the result of exposure to irritants or chemicals at work, you should consult with an attorney immediately to see if your situation meets the requirements for workers’ compensation benefits in Virginia.  Because COPD is a disease that people can often develop over time, you need clear and convincing medical evidence that your COPD was caused by the environment that you work in and the irritants that you are exposed to.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases. It makes it difficult to breathe. There are two main forms of COPD: Chronic bronchitis, which involves a long-term cough with mucus; Emphysema, which involves the destruction of the lungs over time.” (Source from the National Library of Medicine,

Here is some more information as it relates to exposure in the workplace.

Risk Factors of COPDshutterstock_266595629

  • Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace
  • Exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution
  • Frequent use of cooking fire without proper ventilation

Symptoms of COPD:

  • Cough, with or without mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Many respiratory infections
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
  • Trouble catching one’s breath
  • Wheezing
  • Because the symptoms of COPD develop slowly, some people may not know that they are sick.

If you have been diagnosed with COPD and are seeking to have the occupation disease covered as part of a workers compensation claim you need to contact an attorney right away.

If you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia,” or call our office today (804) 755-7755.