Compressed air disease is one of the occupational illnesses covered under workmen compensation policy. It is a sickness attributed to the working environment where air pressure may be higher or lower than the normal surface air pressure.

Workers employed at high altitude, or under water, or working with pressure generating equipment can be exposed to compressed air disease. It is also known as Decompression Sickness or DCS.

DCS is caused when the air’s gases dissolve in the bloodstream due to high pressure and form bubbles throughout the body, as the person moves from a high pressure environment to a low-pressure area. It happens due to disturbance in blood circulation under water.

Usually, divers with excess weight are subject to the bigger risk of picking up a compress. The reason is, in their blood, the content of fats which due to the water repellency, boost the formation of gas bubbles. Further, lipids (fatty tissues) also inert gasses.

Those required to work in different altitudes or different air pressure zones can also be compensated by the workmen compensation insurance if they suffer health issues due to this kind of exposure.

Medically, DCS can produce varied symptoms for those affected and consultation from a medical practitioner may be necessary.

Although DCS is listed under Part A of Schedule III of WC (Workmen Compensation) Act, it is an add-on benefit under the worker’s compensation insurance policy.

Case Study: 1

Formed in 2011, MNK Mining has established its position as one of the leading mining companies on the global front. It is backed with a 1100 strong workforce consisting of skilled personnel which is led by a team of qualified engineers.

Considering the nature of its work, MNK Mining had paid an extra premium to cover compressed air disease under its Workmen Compensation Insurance Policy. Covered under Part A of Schedule III of WC (Workmen Compensation) Act, it was as an add-on benefit to the policy for which MNK Mining paid extra premiums.

Last year, during the mining of uranium, one of the MNK workers developed health issues and was required to be hospitalized. The initial medical reports suggested that due to prolonged working in the mine under different air pressure zones, the worker had developed some breathing problems. It was diagnosed as compressed air disease. Doctors initially gave some medicines to manage the pain and treat the medical condition.

As MNK Mining had bought a workmen compensation insurance policy, the insurer came forward to cover the medical expenses incurred on compressed air disease on the basis of the medical reports. It included expenses incurred in taking the worker to the hospital.

Case Study: 2

Since 2012, L.J Co. has carved a niche for itself in the mining industry. Last year, while working on a PVC extrusion machine, Ram Saran, one of the workers, got injured. A needle which was used for expansion of PVC film (a pressure generating equipment), accidentally punctured his left hand. Since at that time a high pressure injection process was on, it resulted in an injection of compressed air at 20 atmospheric pressures into the hands of Ram. Due to the accident, the worker experienced severe pain followed by numbness of all the fingers.

He was immediately rushed to the hospital where X-rays and MRIs were conducted. The reports showed the presence of excess air in the skin and intermuscular spaces. The patient was given a painkiller injection to reduce the pain. The swelling of the upper limb lasted for 25 days, and it took ten weeks for the numbness to subside.

L.J Industry had purchased a workmen compensation insurance policy for all its workers. Considering the nature of their business and the working atmosphere in which their workers had to work, the company expanded the cover with compressed air disease coverage.

Additional Read: What Are the Occupational Diseases Covered Under a WC Policy?

In this case, medical expenses incurred on Ram’s treatment were covered by workmen compensation insurance policy. Upon receiving intimation about Ram’s hospitalization, the insurer scrutinized the claim form along with other documents like doctor’s prescription, medical bills, etc. Once satisfied, the insurer paid medical expenses. Here, as Ram’s fingers stayed numb for quite a long time, the insurer also paid temporary disability benefits.