by Karl Voigt
What is Occupational Disease? Many people think of workers’ compensation law as addressing people who hurt their back or their knee. However, the legislature has created laws to protect people who have contracted diseases from their work environment. As an example, workers who have been exposed to toxic work environments or other hazards may suffer from disabling diseases. Occupational Disease is a special category of Workers’ Compensation law that was designed to protect these people.
The Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act makes compensable claims for diseases such as asbestosis, pneumoconiosis, or silicosis. These diseases are historically caused by conditions in the work environment.
Under Occupational Disease law, the worker who contracts a disease at work may even benefit from a presumption that the condition is related to work. This differs from regular workers’ compensation law, which demands that a worker prove his injury was related to work.
Sometimes, a spouse of a worker who has died from an occupational disease may be entitled to benefits.
As is often the case in legal matters, time is of the essence for filing a claim.