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Can you get workers' comp for second-hand smoke exposure?

Fortunately for those of us who don't smoke, the number of private and public locations where lighting up is forbidden has increased dramatically over the past few decades. That's particularly good news for employees who were forced to endure the second-hand smoke -- also known as environmental tobacco smoke -- of customers and fellow workers.

However, smoking restrictions vary throughout the country. In Georgia, smoking is still permitted in bars and restaurants as long as they don't employ or admit people who are under 18.

Exposure to ETS is a recognized health risk because it contains carcinogens and toxins. While inhaling someone else's cigarette smoke isn't as hazardous as smoking itself, it can aggravate a number of health conditions.

Employees who have suffered health issues because they were exposed to ETS on the job generally have better luck collecting workers' compensation benefits than in the past. The connection between ETS and certain medical conditions has become better understood.

Further, the circumstances under which an employer must pay ETS exposure-related workers' comp benefits have increased. A person applying for workers' compensation as a result of being exposed to ETS usually needs to prove that:

-- They have a medical condition that was either aggravated or caused by ETS.

-- They have had minimal exposure to ETS anywhere else besides their workplace.

-- They have been forced to breathe ETS in their workplace.

If you believe that you are suffering negative physical effects from exposure to ETS in the workplace or that an existing medical condition has been worsened by this exposure, it may be wise to seek the guidance of a Georgia attorney experienced in workers' compensation issues to find out what your options are.

Source: FindLaw, "Smoking in the Workplace and Workers' Compensation," accessed Dec. 09, 2015

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