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Occupational disease

Viimati uuendatud: 09.02.2017

Occupational Disease

Occupational disease is caused by a hazard factor or kind of work included in the list of occupational diseases. Occupational diseases are characterized by slow, gradual development. Yet the disease can remain so unnoticed that a person cannot even suspect it nor connect it to some working environment hazard. It is a long-term health disorder (in general, with no healing) and the main reason is the work-related physical, physiologic, chemical or biological hazard. One person may simultaneously suffer from several occupational diseases.

Occupational disease is diagnosed by the occupational health doctor and first hints may be discovered during the regular health check of employees. Therefore, employees should never keep important health-related information from the doctor. General practitioner suspecting an occupational disease must forward the employee to the occupational health doctor. Occupational disease is diagnosed by the occupational health doctor who determines the employee’s state of health and collects data about their current and previous work conditions and kind of work. The occupational health doctor notifies about the occupational disease in writing to the employer, Labour Inspectorate and the doctor who forwarded the employee to the occupational health doctor.

What to do when a person suspects they might have an occupational disease?

List of occupational diseases enforced by the Minister of Social Affairs marks the causes of occupational skin diseases and tumours, and lists the respiratory occupational diseases and tumours. The regulation also contains a list of chemical working environment hazards that could cause an occupational disease, and the occupational diseases caused by the physical and physiological workplace hazards. In the case of occupational disease doubt, the employee should consult the occupational health doctor or the general practitioner, who forwards them to the Centre of Occupational Diseases and Health at the North Estonia Medical Centre.

Right to Demand the Employer to Compensate for the Damage Caused by the Health Damage

The employee who has developed a health disorder while carrying out work tasks has a right to ask the employer to compensate for the damage caused. The employer must, first of all, compensate for the reasonable medical costs related to the treatment of the occupational disease; compensate the difference of the temporarily decreased income caused by the occupational disease; in the case of the employee’s death, the employer must also compensate for the reasonable funeral costs. If the employee who died due to an occupational disease had, during the time of their death, the legal maintenance obligation, the employer is obliged to pay the surviving dependant a monetary compensation that corresponds to the maintenance amount that the deceased would have probably provided the surviving dependant with during their lifetime. Injured employees have a right to demand the employer to pay for the extra cost caused by the health damage, like prosthesis, aids, and prescription drugs. If the employer does not accept claims by the employee or persons related to the employee, parties can turn to court to solve the dispute.

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