Workers’ Compensation for Occupational Disease

Employee and worker safety is an integral part of the smooth functioning of the business. Worker’s safety is a responsibility of the employer and a basic requirement of every workplace. A shortfall in workplace safety can have a severe resurrection on workers’ health as well as the company’s reputation and financial standing.

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A worker’s compensation policy helps in providing injured workers with the required compensation and medical care. Apart from injury, workers’ compensation for occupational diseases is also a common financial support mechanism provided by the employer.

What is an Occupational Disease?

Working conditions and the type of work or employment, both, can have a major impact on the health of the workers. The word ‘occupational health’ or ‘occupational disease’ has emerged from work-related ailments. In a broader sense, occupational disease means any disease, injury or impairment that affects workers or employees during their course of employment.

The International Labour Organization defines occupational safety in Article 1 (b) of the Protocol of 2002 to the Occupational Safety and Health Convention (1981). As per the article, occupational disease is defined as “any disease contracted as a result of an exposure to risk factors arising from work activity.”

This definition focuses on two main aspects:

  • The work environment is the cause of the disease
  • The frequency of the disease is much higher in the exposed workers than in the general population

Identification of occupational disease does not merely depend on the symptoms. Factors like physical risks, biological risks, and, chemical risks in the work environment, all could play a crucial role in determining whether the disease can be classified as an occupational disease or not.

Workers' Compensation for Occupational Disease

As per the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1923, if a worker, during the course of employment, contracts any disease specified as an occupational disease by the Act, the employer is liable to pay the required compensation. One of the two main objectives of this Act mandates that employers give reimbursement or pay compensation to the workers in case they are contracted job-related illnesses or diseases.

The Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1923, being a mandate for certain employers, has led to the creation of a particular type of insurance for workers. This insurance type is called a Workmen Compensation Policy. It ensures that workers are compensated for diseases or injuries sustained during work without any financial burden on the employer.

When are Employers Liable to Pay Workers' Compensation for Occupational Disease?

As per Section 3 of the said Act, the employer is accountable to pay compensation for occupation if a worker contracts occupational disease mentioned in the Act under Part A, B, and C of Schedule III. Some of the occupational diseases mentioned in the Act are:

  • Diseases caused by work in compressed air
  • Diseases caused by chemicals or their toxic compounds
  • Infectious and parasitic diseases caused due to the risk of contamination
  • Diseases caused by radioactive substances and ionizing radiation
  • Pneumoconiosis, Bagassosis, Bronchopulmonary diseases etc., caused due to working conditions

Conclusion

With changing job patterns and working environment, keeping up with occupational safety and health risks factors is challenging. Work-related hazards and occupational diseases, especially in SMEs and other unorganized sectors are sometimes difficult to manage. However, with adequate safety precautions and a Workmen's Compensation Policy in place, employers can achieve this goal.

Written By: PolicyBazaar - Updated: 16 November 2022