TOXICOLOGY AND THE WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION ACT
The Workmen’s Compensation Act (1923), provides for the payment of compensation by certain classes of employers to their employees for injury or accident sustained in the course of employment. An occupational disease contracted by a workman while in the service of an employer for a continuous period of not less than six months is deemed to be an injury or an accident.
When a workman gives notice of an accident, the employer should arrange to have him examined free of charge by a qualified medical practitioner. If the workman refuses to be examined or treated, or after agreeing to be examined disregards instructions regarding treatment, the injury or disablement will be deemed to be of the same severity as it may have been reasonably expected to be with proper medical attention.
In case a medical officer is asked to examine a workman and give his opinion as to whether he is partially or totally disabled from an accident or occupational disease, he should undertake the examination with great care. Among the list of occupational diseases mentioned under the Act, the following poisons/toxins are implicated as causative agents—arsenic, benzene, bichromates, carbondisulfide, chromic acid, halogen-ated hydrocarbons, lead, manganese, mercury, nitrous fumes, organophosphates, and phosphorus. However, the WHO has identified many more chemicals as disease-causing in the field of occupational health (Table 4.2).
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