What is an occupational disease? It is a disease caused by work, either by the work environment or the tasks related to it.
An occupational disease must be specific to a type of work or directly related to the risks associated with that work. For example, a lung disease such as asbestos is characteristic of work where workers are exposed to asbestos.
In the event of an occupational disease, the worker may be entitled to benefits and services such as medical aid or rehabilitation if they need it and their claim is accepted. They must file a formal claim by completing 2 forms, namely, the Worker's claim and one of the following appendices depending on their medical situation, established with their physician:
- Appendix to the Worker’s claim – Occupational disease
- Appendix to the Worker's claim – Occupationnal disease – Deafness
- Appendix to the Worker’s claim – Occupational disease – Vibrations
- Appendix to the Worker’s claim – Occupational lung disease
- Appendix to the Worker's claim – Occupational disease – Repetitive movements
The worker must complete and submit these 2 forms within 6 months of learning that they have the disease or it is brought to their attention that the disease is related to their work. They must do this even if they no longer work for their employer.
In the case of a non-work-related illness, if the worker has to take time off work, their employment relationship is protected.
Criteria for an occupational disease
As in the case of a work accident, an occupational disease can be contracted out of or in the course of work. It is the CNESST that determines, based on various criteria, whether or not it is an occupational disease.
Disease contracted out of work
When contracted out of work, the disease developed while the worker was performing the tasks for which they are employed (for example, a factory worker who becomes deaf after working in a noisy factory environment for many years).
Disease contracted in the course of work
The occupational disease developed when the worker was performing tasks other than those they normally do. These tasks may be directly or indirectly related to their work (for example, an office worker in a hospital who develops post-traumatic stress after being attacked by a violent patient). In their regular duties, the office worker does not have direct contact with patients.