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In our daily life of intensive working hours when the time comes we may wonder what are occupational diseases.

The term “occupational diseases” is used for all those pathologies or conditions contracted as a consequence of working under a contract or as a contractor. However, for the term be admitted as such it must appear in the 2024 table of occupational diseases.

If you need help getting compensation in California or filing an occupational disease claim, we can help. Our workers compensation lawyers in Los Angeles are also specialists in professional illness cases. We have over 40 years of legal practice in the area.

California is one of the pioneer states in recognizing the existence of occupational diseases for purposes of workers compensation. The Compensation and Security Insurance Act of 1917 established the inclusion of “any illness arising from employment”.

Such a definition currently appears in Section 3208 of the California Labor Code. It is also recognized as an occupational disease, the aggravation of a pre-existing condition in the worker. Thus, the employee may be entitled to claim partial compensation for the disability attributable to the aggravation.

What are the most common occupational diseases in 2024?

In other words, what are occupational diseases in 2024? The following are some of the ones that generate more benefits for workers in California:

Skin diseases

These are caused by various factors, including permanent and prolonged outdoor activities. Workers who are employed in construction, window cleaning, agricultural activities, couriers and delivery amongst others are exposed to suffer some of these.

There are employees who are in daily contact with these toxic substances. For example: gas station workers, painters, construction workers, cleaners, and mechanics.

occupational skin diseases

These people may be more likely to develop skin cancer and other diseases. The cause is permanent exposure to hazardous chemicals.

The most common skin diseases that workers can suffer from include:

Skin cancer. It is caused by abnormal growth of squamous cells.

Eruptions. It is an itchy and inflamed skin rash that itches and hurts.

Eczema. It is an inflammation of the skin known as dermatitis.

Various skin infections. Such as impetigo, skin abscesses, staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome, boils, anthrax, cellulite and others.

Inflammations. Hives caused by the release of histamine in the immune system.

Contact dermatitis. It is caused when the skin comes into contact with chemicals present in latex, soaps, detergents, dyes and more.

Ulcers. They are small sores that form anywhere on the body. The most common are peptic ulcers (stomach / duodenum).

Respiratory diseases

Workers who are daily exposed to irritating and dangerous chemicals are at high risk for suffering respiratory problems. Permanent inhalation of toxic gases causes irritation and injury to the lung and respiratory tract.

man using inhaler

Among the most common respiratory illnesses that are covered by workers’ compensation we may find:

Occupational asthma. Inflammation of the bronchi leading to attacks of wheezing and shortness of breath, cough, and feeling of tightness in the chest.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Bronchitis and emphysema are usually the most common conditions caused by this disease. It causes irreversible damage.

Tuberculosis. Bacterial infection that causes the germ known as mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Mesothelioma. It is a very rare form of cancer that is generated from transformed cells that originate in the mesothelium.

Silicosis. Chronic disease caused by vacuuming large amounts of silica dust.

Pneumonitis. It is a pulmonary inflammation that is limited to the interstitium (viral pneumonia, irradiation pneumonia, including fibrotic).

Pharyngitis. Its symptoms are pain or irritation in the throat when swallowing. It occurs along with other infections (cold / flu).

Hearing loss

Noises caused by very noisy machinery and work equipment in work environments such as industries, airports, nightclubs and others, can cause hearing loss, after prolonged and constant exposure.

hearing loss from work

To avoid these damages, the use of personal protective equipment such as hearing aids, ear muffs and ear plugs is not enough. When the worker is subjected to noises or sounds with very high decibels, his hearing capacity progressively decreases.

Unfortunately, workers with serious hearing injuries and illnesses sometimes do not get sufficient compensation benefits. This hinders the correct treatment of such injuries.

Excessive effort 

These injuries and illnesses caused by excessive effort are not exclusive to a particular industrial or labor sector. They usually occur in almost all workplaces.

Although they are more frequent in certain types of occupations that demand more effort. For example, lifting weights and stretching or pushing objects daily.

excessive work effort

Excessive effort is associated with common diseases and injuries such as: skin disorders, hernias, leg and joint injuries, ankle sprains, and shoulder and back injuries.

Musculoskeletal disorders are grouped within these diseases. These illnesses and injuries rank among the top in California workers’ compensation claims.

The workers most likely to suffer them are: construction workers, health employees (stretcher bearers, paramedics), factory and warehouse workers, among others.

Other occupational or occupational diseases

Other frequent occupational disease claims cases that Lluis Law’s Los Angeles injury lawyers work on are:

Carpal tunnel syndrome. It produces excessive pressure on the median nerve, affecting movement and generating a lot of pain. Also tingling, numbness, weakness and muscle damage in the hand.

Visual fatigue. Whose symptoms are dry, red eyes, burning and eyestrain.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It can become an intolerance to any physical effort, preventing daily activities.

Back pain. It is a pain in the upper and middle back that can be caused by lifting excessive weight. Also due to injuries or strain in muscles, ligaments or in the discs of the spine.

Stress. Mental fatigue caused by the job demand for a higher performance in less time. This disease causes various mental and physical disorders.

Whatever work-related illness you suffer, feel free to contact us, we can help you receive your workers compensation.

So what is an occupational disease then?

Occupational diseases are directly caused by the type of job or profession a person performs. These diseases are a major factor in health care costs and productivity lost in California. These have become a frequent problem in companies today.

Occupational diseases and accidents at work are called professional contingencies, as opposed to common contingencies. 

Countless cases are reported daily by insurance companies for workers suffering from occupational diseases or injuries. However, workers’ compensation does not yet cover the full costs of occupational injuries and illnesses.

The reason is the difficulty to demonstrate the existence and severity of some of these diseases. Many employers and insurance companies downplay it because these appear years later. Consequently, recovering damages through a claim to the insurance company can become difficult.

It is argued that these are not the product of work, but of other activities carried out by the worker. However, all workers who are injured or suffer a work-related illness have inalienable rights. Therefore, they must enjoy workers’ compensation benefits.

If you’re having trouble getting workers’ compensation for a work-related illness or are fired, call us right now. Our lawyers for wrongful or unfair dismissal in Los Angeles will fight to obtain compensatory benefits.

What are the causes of occupational diseases?

The risk factors associated with the development of diseases at work are:

Exposure to chemical agents

These elements are present in the air in various forms: gas, dust, smoke, steam, etc. Such chemical agents received parenterally (injections) or via inhalation can cause from irritation to cancer.

occupational diseases from exposure to chemical, physical or biological agents

Exposure to physical agents

Exposure to physical agents in their various forms: noise, vibrations, radiation, is another cause of occupational diseases.

  • Excessive noise. It produces hearing damage such as deafness that affects and causes blood pressure, nervous alteration, irritation, restlessness, etc.
  • Vibrations They cause different effects, from dizziness or vomiting to alterations in the spine. In addition to alterations in the sensitivity of the hands, pain in the lower back and digestive disorders.
  • Radiations *. These radiations are of two types: ionizing and non-ionizing.
  1. Ionizing radiation. These can alter cells by causing electrically charged particles (ions) to cause tumors and cancer.
  2. Non-ionizing radiation. These are more frequent at work. They have a lower energy charge and are less dangerous, although they can cause skin disorders. For example, irritation, redness, burns, and minor eye damage (conjunctivitis).

* Radiation poisoning is caused by exposure to excessive amounts of ionizing radiation. The most exposed workers are radiologists and nurses.

Exposure to extreme temperatures

Permanent exposure to extreme heat or cold causes injury and damage to the human body, leading even to death. There are a series of pathologies associated with these factors such as: loss of hand skills and diseases such as hypothermia.

Exposure to biological agents

These so called biological agents are viruses, bacteria, fungi and others. These serious disease-causing pollutants are grouped as follows:

Virus. They live and reproduce within the human or animal body and are spread by physical contact, saliva, or air at work.

Bacteria They are more complex organisms than viruses and larger. These cause diseases such as tuberculosis or tetanus.

Protozoa. Microscopic organisms that can live inside a human and cause diseases like toxoplasmosis.

Mushrooms. Organisms of plant origin and microscopic size that affect the skin and mucosa.

Parasites. Animals of different sizes that penetrate the organism and infect it causing damage to the intestine, lungs, etc.

Regardless of how you became ill, the worker is eligible to apply for workers’ compensation with the company where you work. Lluis Law’s workers’ compensation attorneys handle these cases daily and work hard to achieve your fair compensation. Call us now for a Free consultation.

What to do to report an occupational disease in California?

If you suffer an occupational disease in California and want compensation, there are several things to consider. First, you need to make sure it appears as a listed occupational disease. Then you should:

  1. Notify your employer that you have any of the diseases classified as occupational diseases.
  2. To report an occupational disease, you must use Form CA-2, which you can request from your employer.
  3. After filling it in with your details, you must deliver the form to your employer. Within 10 business days, the employer must turn it in full to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) .
  4. You must also record medical reports and supports that show that the disease was caused directly by work.

Workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational disease

If the employer approves the claim, the worker is entitled to receive severance payments for:

  • Medical expenses including rehabilitation therapies.
  • Payment of wages lost while recovering from illness (temporary disability).
  • Permanent disability benefits if the worker fails to fully recover from the illness.

If the employee dies from workplace-acquired illness, surviving family members may be entitled to receive death compensation.

To learn more about these and other workplace benefits in the event of injury or illness, read our “Workers compensation in California” article. We represent workers in the Los Angeles area in all types of workplace accidents and injuries as well.

Therefore, what are the most common occupational diseases? All of the ones previously mentioned and some more. No matter what type of accident you have suffered, you are entitled to receive your workers compensation.

Remember that you can contact us to request a free case review, we will be happy to help you.