If you become ill because of a condition of your employment, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. But how do you demonstrate that your illness is work related? The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) gives guidance to employers, instructing that they “must consider an . . . illness to be work related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing . . . illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for . . . illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception . . . specifically applies.”

OSHA lists several circumstances that would allow an employer not to treat an illness as work related, including that:

  • The ill person was on-site as a member of the general public, not as an employee.
  • Symptoms surfaced at work as a sole result of exposure that occurred outside the work environment.
  • The illness resulted solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program.
  • The illness is solely the result of an employee eating, drinking, or preparing food or drink for personal consumption. But, if an employee becomes ill eating food that was contaminated due to exposure at work, the resulting illness is work related.
  • The illness is solely the result of an employee doing personal tasks outside of the employee’s assigned working hours.
  • The illness is the common cold or flu.

Many diseases have a strong link to industrial exposure and are readily identified as work related when certain chemicals or contaminants are present in the work environment:

  • Alveolitis
  • Asbestosis
  • Bronchopulmonary disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Siderosis
  • Silicotuberculosis
  • Silicosis
  • Vitiligo

Asthma and dermatitis are known to have industrial causes, though other environmental triggers exist as well. Mental illness can be considered work related if the employee voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a licensed healthcare professional stating that the mental illness is work related. Contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, hepatitis A, or plague are considered work related if the employee is infected at work.

If you’re wondering whether your illness qualifies as work related, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Call the Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 562-222-0146 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange County, Bakersfield, Fresno, Phoenix, or Tucson. 

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