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What is an Occupational Disease?

 Your work-related disability may not be the result of a single accident. Exposure to certain job related agents may have caused you to develop a debilitating condition over time. However, not all injuries that develop over time are occupational diseases that entitle you to benefits. The illness must be “the natural and unavoidable result of the conditions of employment”.
In other words, you can’t go out of your way to inhale fiberglass while working on a construction site or be gnawing at a lead pipe all day while working in an office and expect to receive benefits when you get sick.
The illness in question must be unquestionably linked to the type of work being done. So you may become ill at work but not be eligible for benefits. If someone is employed as a computer programmer at a building with asbestos containing materials, they are not entitled to benefits if they develop asbestos-related lung cancer. However, if an employee’s job entails handling asbestos, they may be entitled to benefits.
Workers Compensation Law Article 3 names 29 occupational diseases that are explicitly related to certain industrial processes. There is also a broader 30th category that contains “any and all occupational diseases” resulting from a hazardous environment.
Some examples of various work-related diseases and the occupational hazards they are linked to include:
  • Anthrax -Handling of wool, hair, bristles hides or skins
  • Lead poisoning- Any process involving the use of or direct contact with lead or its preparations or compounds
  • Arsenic poisoning- Any process involving the use of or direct contact with arsenic or its preparations or compounds
  • Dope poisoning (poisoning by tetrachloride-methane)- Any process involving the use or direct contact with any substance used as or in conjunction with a solvent for acetate of cellulose or nitro cellulose.
  • Glanders– Care or handling of any equine animal or the carcass of any such animal
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