Definition and Examples
An occupational disease is a condition or illness caused by occupational exposure in the workplace. In order for an occupational disease to be covered under the workers’ compensation law, the employee must prove that work was the prevailing factor in causing both the medical condition and disability resulting from the claimed occupational disease.
Common examples of occupational diseases recognized by Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law are:
- Injuries caused by repetitive motion. Examples include, but are not limited to carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger and epicondylitis.
- Loss of hearing due to industrial noise. This can be a loss of hearing in one or both ears due to prolonged exposure to harmful noise in employment.
- Radiation disability. This is a disability resulting from employment related exposure to various types of radiation.
This is not an exhaustive list of occupational diseases which are compensable under Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law. If you have a condition you believe is an occupational disease, you should: Notify your employer (the process is described below), seek medical attention, and/or consult a lawyer regarding the legal issues involved in pursuing a Workers’ Compensation Claim.
Related: Additional Benefits for Occupational Diseases Due to Toxic Exposure
Do I Need To Give Notice To My Employer?
Yes, cases of occupational disease must be reported to your employer within 30 days of the diagnosis of the condition.
Failure to report your injury or occupational disease to your employer may jeopardize your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits. To assure your right to benefits for which you may be eligible, notify your employer in writing no later than 30 days after the diagnosis of the condition. The written notice to your employer must state the date, time and place of the injury, the nature of the injury or occupational disease and the name and address of the person with the injury or occupational disease. Always make a copy of the written notice for yourself and keep a written record of the date you mailed your notice. If you hand-deliver your notice, keep a record of the date and time of the delivery and the full name and title of the person you delivered it to.
When Must The Claim Be Filed?
If you decide to file a claim based on occupational disease, the Division of Workers’ Compensation must receive the claim:
Within two years after the occupational disease becomes reasonably discoverable and it is apparent that an injury has been sustained related to the work exposure, or if payment was made on account of your workers’ compensation injury or occupational disease, within two years after the last benefit payment made. The period of limitations is extended to three years if the employer or insurer does not timely file a First Report of Injury with the Division.
Where Can I Get More Information?
Ask your employer or the workers’ compensation claims representative of the employer’s insurer. The name, address and telephone number of the insurer or claims administrator must be posted at the workplace. For additional information about the dispute management service, filing a claim or other workers’ compensation questions, you can talk to an information specialist at the Division of Workers' Compensation by calling toll-free 800-775-2667.
Workers’ compensation is intended to be a streamlined benefits system, but many workers’ compensation cases can be extremely complicated. Your workers’ compensation case can affect your entitlement to social security benefits, Medicare benefits, or unemployment compensation benefits, for example. Before you make any decisions on settling your workers’ compensation case, you should read all the information available to you on this website, or consult with a lawyer.
Understand Your Rights and Obligations: You Have the Right to Consult With A Lawyer
If you have any questions about the issues discussed above, you may consult with a lawyer. It should not cost you anything to consult a lawyer. Lawyers who regularly practice workers’ compensation law offer free initial consultations. For more information, see Obtaining A Lawyer.
Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Data
The Missouri Department of Labor provides occupational injuries and illnesses data, produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational safety and health data is collected annually from approximately 5,400 private industry employers in Missouri. The data is compiled in the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Survey information includes occupation and other demographic information of workers who incur work-related injuries and illnesses, the nature of the conditions and how they occurred, and the time away from work.