Work-related injuries are not always obvious, and they do not always occur immediately or because of a single event. Some work-related harms develop over long periods of time and slowly present themselves via chronic, remitting or relapsing symptoms. An occupational disease is one such harm, a harm that affects many New York workers.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, an occupational illness is one that health care providers associate with a certain occupation or industry. These types of diseases result from a variety of chemical, psychological, biological and physical factors that are present in a workspace and that employees encounter on a frequent basis. Occupational illnesses are compensable under workersâ€™ comp law because the accepted belief is that they are preventable. Individuals generally only develop an occupational disease if the working conditions are somehow faulty.
Like any other work-related injury, occupational illness is compensable under workersâ€™ compensation law. However, in order to obtain compensation for the damages associated with the disease, a worker must prove that the illness is, in fact, work-related. Proving this requires a carefully obtained diagnosis.
American Family Physician explains how insurers and medical providers work together to diagnose an illness and determine whether or not it is work-related. First, the physician would conduct a physical exam to identify the disease. Then, he or she would consider whether any factors present in the personâ€™s workplace or previous place of employment might have contributed to or aggravated the condition. If necessary, the physician would order other tests to corroborate causation.
Some other factors a physician might use to determine the etiology of an illness include studies regarding the accepted or suspected adverse symptoms of identified occupational exposures; the period between possible exposure and symptom onset; possible latency periods; and non-occupational work factors. Physicians should also consider occupational etiology in cases in which the patient does not fit the typical demographic profile of a certain disease.