For most people who work in an office, the scent of your neighbor’s perfume, cologne or hand cream might be pleasant. Or, it might be annoying. For some people, however, a smell or fragrance can actually make them physically ill. A fragrance sensitivity can lead to lost work time, sick days and decreased productivity. But is fragrance sensitivity an actual disability and, more importantly, is it eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?

What is fragrance sensitivity?

For some people, scented products, aerosol deodorizers and other similar products can cause respiratory problems, breathing issues, migraines and even neurological problems. A 2017 study showed that one-third of participants experienced one or more health issues from scented products, whether they were using the products themselves or encountered them in a public place. The most common reaction (17%) was respiratory difficulties. Others reported asthma attacks, migraines, skin reactions and congestion or watery eyes.

The best way to avoid issues with fragrance sensitivity is to remove or avoid all the offending scent-related products in the office. You may also be able to discuss your sensitivity with co-workers or your manager to make your workplace a “no-fragrance zone” or allot certain areas in your workplace to be fragrance-free, like the restrooms, your office and certain conference rooms. These accommodations should be available to you under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If your workplace refuses to make accommodations, we advise you speak to Human Resources or an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

What if the fragrances in my office have made me too sick to work?

If you’re suffering from a medical condition due to reactions to fragrances or chemicals in your office, you may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation. Other workplace allergens include:

  • Certain foods, like peanuts
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Dust
  • Gases and fumes
  • Mold
  • Office supplies, like toner
  • Perfume
  • Pet dander

To make a workers’ compensation claim, your condition or allergic reaction must be serious enough to have limited your ability to work. If your employer or your employer’s insurance company denies your workers’ comp benefits, you have the right to file an appeal. Our attorneys can help.

The Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Gainsberg Law advocate for you when you’re injured on the job. We’ll work to get you the benefits you deserve. Call 312-313-1621 or fill out our contact form today.