What is an occupational disease?
The most common occupational diseases include acoustic traumas, respiratory allergies, skin diseases, asbestos illnesses and strain injuries in the upper extremities. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health publishes annual statistics on compensated occupational diseases and illnesses suspected to be occupational diseases.
The definition of an occupational disease is specified in the Workers’ Compensation Act. Whilst occupational diseases are work-related illnesses, not all such illnesses are classified as compensable occupational diseases. An occupational disease is an illness that has been caused by working conditions. An occupational disease is an illness that is likely to be primarily caused by a physical, chemical or biological factor affecting the work. Illnesses caused by psychological factors are not covered as occupational diseases.
The List of occupational diseases contains diseases and their contributing factors or exposure agents with which a causal link has been established. With respect to the diseases and exposure agents included in the list, it is sufficient to demonstrate that the employee has been exposed to the agent at work to the extent that the exposure could be the cause of the disease. The list is neither exhaustive nor limitative, and diseases not included in the list can be covered as occupational diseases if causality between the illness and a physical, chemical or biological factor present in the work can be established with sufficient probability.
For detailed information on occupational diseases, exposure agents and disease statistics, see the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (TTL) website.
Covered occupational diseases
In Finland, just under one hundred employees die each year from occupational diseases covered by workers’ compensation insurance. The majority of fatal cases of occupational disease are due to cancer caused by asbestos.
An occupational disease is compensable by the insurance company underwriting the workers’ compensation insurance, provided by the employer at the date when the occupational disease manifested. On the date of manifestation, if the injured person is no longer performing the work that may have caused the occupational disease, compensation liability is determined on the basis of the work over the course of which exposure primarily or last occurred.