Occupational Diseases: Definition, Legal Aspects

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Occupational Diseases: Definition, Legal Aspects
Occupational Diseases: Definition, Legal Aspects
Video: Occupational Diseases: Definition, Legal Aspects
Video: Occupational Diseases 2023, February
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Occupational diseases

For many people, the workplace is the absolute center of life. The job offers economic security and social contacts and strengthens self-esteem - making it an important health factor. But at the same time a workplace can also harbor health risks. The risk of an occupational disease is generally higher for men than for women, mainly because they work more often in potentially dangerous industries. Although many health problems are caused or exacerbated by the job, only very specific illnesses are actually considered to be occupational diseases. The term “occupational disease” plays an important role in social insurance in the field of accident insurance.

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  • How are occupational diseases defined?
  • List of recognized occupational diseases
  • Legal Aspects
  • Occupational disease insurance
  • Notification of an occupational disease
  • Recognition as an occupational disease

How are occupational diseases defined?

Occupational diseases are damage to health that is caused by the insured activity and is included in the list in Appendix 1 to the ASVG. In contrast to occupational accidents, they often occur gradually over many years. This damage to health is caused by certain substances (e.g. lead, asbestos or benzene), ionizing radiation or special effects (e.g. shocks when working with a jackhammer, vibrations, noise or darkness). Some diseases are only recognized if certain legal requirements are met, such as dust lung disease or skin diseases.

List of recognized occupational diseases

Only 53 diseases listed in the appendix (Appendix 1) to the ASVG are currently considered occupational diseases in Austria. This list contains only physical and chemical diseases. The most common occupational diseases in 2017 were noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, bronchial asthma and respiratory and lung diseases. Men are more severely affected by recognized occupational diseases than women, such as hearing loss due to noise or malignant neoplasms of the pleura, lungs and larynx caused by asbestos.

The number of occupational diseases has declined over the past two decades (1995: 1,584 cases, 2017: 1,508 cases). However, the number of recognized deaths due to an occupational disease has risen sharply in this period (1995: nine cases, 2017: 107 cases) - and this despite the fact that working conditions in Europe have improved significantly in terms of physical and chemical stress in recent decades. Many of the most recently recognized insurance events can be traced back to burdens that took place many years ago. So today's figures partly reflect the dangers of the past.

Legal Aspects

The protection of employees against occupational diseases is regulated by law. If there is still damage to health, those affected can contact the AUVA. If an illness is recognized as an occupational disease, the social insurance covers both medical treatment and rehabilitation and, under certain legal requirements, financial compensation for those affected or surviving dependents.

Since only illnesses listed in the appendix to the ASVG can be recognized as occupational diseases, there are sometimes cases of hardship. In order to compensate for these hardships, illnesses can be recognized as occupational diseases in individual cases with the help of the "general clause". They must be demonstrably work-related. In addition, the accident insurance provider must determine on the basis of reliable scientific knowledge that the disease was exclusively or predominantly caused by the use of harmful substances or radiation. The Minister of Health must have agreed to this determination. This finding alone does not lead to an expansion of the list of occupational diseases, but only establishes an occupational disease in this individual case.

Occupational disease insurance

Employers are obliged to prevent the occurrence of occupational diseases through technical and occupational safety measures. More details can be found in the Employee Protection Act (ASchG). Nevertheless, with some work it cannot be prevented that the workers are exposed to particular stress. Your risk is cushioned by social security.

In Austria, around five million people are legally insured against the consequences of occupational diseases with AUVA. For those insured with BVAEB, BVAEB and SVS, these insurance carriers are also the accident insurers.

Notification of an occupational disease

The employer and doctor are obliged to report an occupational disease (report an occupational disease BVAEB, report an occupational disease AUVA, report an occupational disease SVS).

Anyone who is afraid of contracting an occupational disease can contact AUVA (or BVAEB, BVAEB or SVS) directly or have the employer contact the relevant accident insurance institution. This provides preventive care and bears the costs for a workplace evaluation, regular health monitoring examinations and vaccines necessary for certain vulnerable occupational groups.

Recognition as an occupational disease

The sick person has the right to have his / her illness recognized as an occupational disease and subsequently to rehabilitation and, if applicable, to a pension:

  • if the disease is on the list of occupational diseases,
  • if the sick person fulfills any additional requirements specified in the list,
  • if her / his earning capacity is reduced to a certain extent over a certain period.

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