Washington law recognizes two kinds of work-related injuries that can be compensated under the workers’ comp insurance policy – occupational diseases and injuries. A work injury is where one is harmed due to a specific work-related accident where the exact cause and date can be established. An occupational disease is a type of on-the-job injury that happens over time and results in chronic disease preventing one from carrying out their job duties or bars them from being able to work again. What differentiates the two is that occupational disease does not arise from a single incident; instead, happens over time or a chain of repetitive actions.
An employer hires an employee as is and is liable for medical conditions arising from, or worsened by employment. A disease or injury has to happen while an employee is serving the interest of the employer – but it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the employer’s premises to be covered by workers’ compensation.
A study shows that in 2017, there were more than 2.5 million reported cases of nonfatal job-related diseases and injuries in the private sector alone. 94% of these incidents were on-the-job injuries, and 5.1% were occupational diseases. Both diseases and injuries can cause lots of pain and suffering that deserves workers’ comp benefits.
Here are some common types of occupational diseases and work injuries
- A specific incident at work leading to an injury – with slips and falls being the most common
- A chain of repetitive actions causing disability, like the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- An on-the-job related disability that recurs resulting in a later disability like a back injury
- A pre-existing condition that gets worse due to work-related matters, like asthma
- Hepatitis and tuberculosis for professionals like blood processors, nurses and so on who are exposed to such diseases
- Lungs and heart diseases for fire-fighters who have been serving for over four years
- Silicosis and pneumoconiosis for any job that involves exposure or direct contact with coal dust
- Specific kinds of chemical poisoning, like mercury, arsenic or lead for professions that involve direct exposure or contact, to the compounds
There are other diseases not highlighted above that can still be compensable. However, they have to meet specific criteria for establishing whether they are work-related. To determine if a condition is compensable, they will have to ensure that:
- The employee contracted the disease in his or her line of work
- The disease is causally linked to the employee’s occupation or industry
- The occurrence of the disease is significantly higher in that occupation r industry that it is in the general population
Compensation of work-related illnesses and injuries
Employees are covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, so, any work-related injury or disease sustained should be compensated by the insurance provider. If an employee suffers on-the-job related injuries or diseases and the employer fails to pay for it, employees are advised to contact experienced lawyers, like those from Walthew Law Firm for a free consultation. These lawyers can provide legal guidance and also represent them in court when it comes to that.