If you contract a disease by being exposed to a physical, chemical or biological risk factor at work, or an existing condition is aggravated by such factors, you may have an occupational disease. Hence, you may have grounds to file a workers’ compensation (WC) claim.
Here is what you should know about occupational diseases:
Disability should have occurred within 300 weeks
To receive WC benefits, the disability must occur within 300 weeks of your last employment in the occupation where you were exposed to the hazard (last date of exposure). After this period, your condition may not qualify as an occupational disease. Accordingly, you may not receive WC benefits.
2 years of exposure to silica, coal or asbestos
In Pennsylvania, to qualify for WC benefits for certain lung diseases, you should have worked in the state for at least two years in an occupation with a silica, coal or asbestos hazard during the10 years prior to the disability.
No conditions for certain diseases
The state recognizes some diseases specifically as occupational diseases. They don’t need to meet the conditions discussed above or more for a worker to be compensated.
- Tuberculosis and hepatitis for nurses, blood processors and other specialists exposed to them
- Lung and heart diseases for firefighters with four years or more in service
- Pneumoconiosis and silicosis for occupations that involve direct contact with coal
- Certain types of chemical poisoning, including lead, arsenic, mercury and phosphorus, or their preparations or compounds, for occupations that involve direct contact or exposure.
Filing a claim for such diseases may be more straightforward.
If you contract a disease by reason of your employment or an illness whose occurrence is substantially greater in your occupation or industry than in the general public population, you should obtain more information about your case to protect your rights.