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Definition of Occupational Disease

An occupational disease or occupational illness is any chronic ailment that develops in a worker as a result of that person's work or occupational activity. Occupational disease or illness is one of the aspects that is related to occupational safety and health. It is a disease or condition that develops from exposure during employment to substances or conditions that are detrimental to health. This exposure may result from a variety of physical, biological, psychological and chemical factors that are present in the environment of a worker or that is otherwise encountered in the course of employment by a worker. The exposure may involve absorption, direct contact, inhalation or ingestion.

An occupational disease or illness does not include any ordinary disease of life that the general public is exposed to outside of employment, unless that disease is an incident to a compensable occupational disease. There are several examples of conditions and diseases that are regarded as being occupational diseases and illnesses. Some of these include:

  • Black lung disease among miners
  • Cancer among asbestos installers
  • Silicosis among quarrying and tunnel operators
  • Byssinosis among workers in parts of the cotton textile industry
  • Occupational asthma from several different industries
  • Lead poisoning from many industries that employed or processed lead or lead compounds
  • Radiation disability from employment related to exposure to various types of radiation.
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