Occupational Diseases

Discovering that you’re ill is a frightening experience. We’ve all been there at one time or another, to varying degrees. But finding out that you’re ill due to the work that provides you with your livelihood can feel like a terrible betrayal. We understand and we can help.

Occupational Diseases in New York

Work-related illnesses, also known as occupational diseases, affect millions each year. According to its most recent study, the BLS reported that in 2013, the non-fatal illness and injury rate in New York was 2.4 for every 100 workers.

The New York Workers’ Compensation Board defines occupational diseases as diseases arising from the conditions to which a specific type of worker is exposed. The disease must be caused by a natural occurrence of a certain profession.

Essentially, an occupational disease is any illness that is work-related that develops or gets worse over time because of workplace conditions, job duties or materials or stressors that the worker is frequently exposed to. Common occupational diseases include:

  • Knee and shoulder issues
  • Chronic back pain
  • Tuberculosis
  • Silicosis
  • Dermatitis
  • Lead, mercury and radium poisoning
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of sight
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Lung Cancer
  • Asbestosis
  • Mesothelioma
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Occupational illnesses are more broadly characterized by the nature of the disorder and their causes. For example:

  • Skin Diseases: caused by exposure to chemicals, plants or other potentially toxic substances.
  • Respiratory Conditions: caused by inhaling dangerous biological agents, chemicals, gases, dust or fumes.
  • Poisoning: characterized by abnormally high concentrations of toxic substances in the blood, breath or bodily tissues, caused by the absorption of toxic chemicals into the body.
  • Hearing Loss: caused by harmfully loud noises such as explosions or machinery noise.
  • Blood Borne Pathogens: any number of diseases such as AIDS, HIV, or hepatitis caused by exposure to infected blood.
  • Exposure Related Diseases: includes heat stroke, frostbite, decompression sickness and radiation, caused by environmental exposure at work.

If you suspect that your illness is work-related, it is important to act quickly and speak with an experienced New York workers’ compensation attorney to help you gather the necessary evidence to make your claim.

New York Workers’ Compensation Deadlines

According to New York workers’ compensation law, an employee may receive workers’ compensation benefits for work-related illness. However, a claim must be made before:

  1. Two years from the date of the employee’s disability; or
  2. Two years from the time the disabled employee knew or should have known that the illness was caused by the work environment (whichever date is later).

For work-related hearing loss, some different time limits apply. New York workers’ compensation law provides a three-month waiting period for the injured employee to file a claim for hearing loss. The waiting period can either be three months from the date the employee was removed from the damaging workplace noise, or three months after leaving the employment that caused the hearing loss.

The last day of the three month waiting period is considered the date that the disability began, and the injured employee may file beyond the two year time limit if it is done within ninety days of discovering that the loss of hearing is related to the work environment.


Many occupational illnesses are preventable with appropriate safety precautions. Standing up and FIGHTING FOR YOUR rights can also mean fighting to prevent the same illness or injury from happening to another employee.

Workers’ compensation benefits that you may be entitled to include:

  • compensation for lost wages;
  • payment of medical expenses, current and future;
  • compensation for loss of limbs, eyesight, hearing and in the event of death;
  • benefits for the employee’s family

If you have an illness that you believe was caused by your work environment, it is imperative to notify your employer as soon as possible. Also, be sure to:

  • seek medical treatment;
  • fill out the appropriate accident or illness report;
  • fill out and file Form C-3 with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board;
  • gather additional evidence to support your claim;
  • create a file for medical paperwork and related invoices for medical expenses; and
  • keep an illness diary of your signs, symptoms and medical visits.

If you have developed an occupational disease, this is a frightening time. Do yourself a favor and call the trusted and experienced New York workers’ compensation attorneys of Schwartzapfel® Lawyers, P.C. We have a proven track record of success for obtaining fair monetary settlements for our clients. Contact us today at 1-877-737-4806 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!

Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C.
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