An occupational disease is any chronic ailment that occurs as a result of a workplace activity. Occupational disease are typically identified when per the historical record, it is more prevalent in a given body of workers than in other occupations or the general population.
Under workers' compensation laws, there is a presumption that specific diseases are caused by industrial exposure. Consequently, it is the burden of the employer or insurer to prove that the employee's disease arose from a different cause.
Examples of industrial diseases include lung disease and skin disease. Occupational lung diseases included asbestosis, which is common among asbestos miners and those who worked with asbestos insulations.
Other occupational lung diseases include black lung, common among coal miners, and byssinosis, which is found in factory employees in the cotton textile industry. The dangerous air quality in these work environments may also predispose workers for disease in the lungs as well as in other parts of the body.
Occupational skin diseases are generally caused by chemical exposure to the skin at work. These disease include Eczema, urticaria, sunburn and skin cancer. Occupations with the highest risk of exposure include hairdressing, printing, healthcare, catering, metal machining, motor vehicle repair, and construction.
Other occupational diseases of concern include lead poisoning, which affects workers in industries that use lead or lead compounds, and radiation sickness among employees in the nuclear industry.