What is an Occupational Disease?

Posted by: Chris

Many people believe the only employees who qualify for workers’ compensation benefits are those that are accidentally injured while performing their job duties. But, that’s not the case. It’s true that employees can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits after an accidental injury, but they can also qualify if they have been diagnosed with an occupational disease.

What is an Occupational Disease?

According to 85A OK Stat § 85A-65, an occupational disease is a disease that leads to an employee’s disability or death and is caused by the employee’s occupation. Two of the most common examples of occupational diseases are silicosis and asbestosis. Silicosis is caused by frequent exposure crystalline silica dust, so people who work in construction, mining, and paving often develop this disease. Asbestosis, which is a lung disease, occurs due to exposure to asbestos and usually develops in people who worked in construction or ship repair. These are just two of many occupational diseases that workers could be diagnosed with at some point in their lives.

Recovering Workers’ Compensation For An Occupational Disease

Workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they have an occupational disease. However, workers who are trying to recover benefits for an occupational disease must be able to prove that their disease was directly caused by their occupation. This means proving that the factors that cause the disease were present in your work environment. For example, people who have asbestosis would need to prove that they were constantly exposed to asbestos while at work.

They should also be ready to prove that they would not have had the same level of exposure to asbestos if they were in a different profession. If members of the general public are at the same risk of developing the disease as you are, then it’s probably not an occupational disease.  

There are also certain time limits that workers with occupational diseases should know. In order to recover workers’ compensation for asbestosis or silicosis, the worker must experience disablement or death within three years after the last exposure to the hazardous substance. The time limit is shortened to one year for any other occupational disease, with few exceptions.

Have you been diagnosed with an occupational disease? If so, get in touch with the attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. Recovering workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational disease can be challenging, but our attorneys can help. Please call us today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.