Each year, American workers become ill after developing an "occupational disease," which is defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) as, "any abnormal condition or disorder, other than resulting from an occupational injury, caused by exposure to factors associated with employment."
The World Health Organization defines occupational disease as any disease that's contracted as a result of expose to risk factors that arise from a person's work activities. Some common occupational diseases include mesothelioma, asthma, black lung disease, hearing loss, respiratory problems, lead poisoning, baker's lung, and pesticide poisoning, but there are dozens more.
Under South Carolina's workers' compensation laws, almost all workers who suffer from an occupational disease are able to obtain benefits under the state's Workers' Compensation Act. Those who are not covered by workers' compensation, include:
- Certain casual employees
- Federal employees
- Railroad workers
- Agricultural workers
- Real estate agents
- Corporate officers
- Employees who work for businesses with less than four employees
If you are not in one of the above categories, your occupational illness should make you eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.
Let's look at South Carolina's laws: Section 42-11-10 defines "occupational disease" as a disease that arises out of the course of one's employment due to the hazards that are peculiar to a specific occupation.
Under § 42-11-10, a disease is not an occupational disease when:
- It resulted from outside climatic conditions
- It is a contagious disease
- It is an ordinary disease that the general public is equally exposed to
- It is a chronic disease of the skeletal joints
If a South Carolina worker is suffering from an occupational disease, it will be treated the same as an injury that arose from an accident. However, a disease is only recognized as an "occupational disease" if it was caused by a hazard that has been recognized to be associated with a specific process, trade or occupation as mentioned earlier.
Looking for a Columbia workers' compensation attorney to file a claim for an occupational disease? Contactthe Masella law Firm, P.A. for a personal consultation.