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What Is an Occupational Disease?

If you are an Iowa worker, you may have questions about what constitutes an occupational disease. Chapter 85A of the Iowa Code covers occupational disease compensation, and Section 85A.8 defines occupational diseases as those which arise during the course of your employment.

An occupational disease must have a direct connection to your job, and its onset must be the result of the nature of your employment, such as your exposure to dangerous substances. An occupational disease is not required to be foreseeable, but should you contract one, you must be able to show that something about your job put you at risk for getting it and that it resulted as a rational consequence of your exposure to the hazard.

Employer liability

Section 85A.10 of the Code states that the last employer for whom you worked and in whose employ you were exposed to the harmful substance is liable for any compensation payable to you. You must give that employer a notice of your injury and claim.

Types of compensation

If your occupational disease is such that you are still able to work, you are entitled to recover the costs of your medical treatment. If, however, the disease disables you to the point where you are no longer employable, you may be able to receive compensation for the following:

  • Medical and/or osteopathic services
  • Hospital services and supplies
  • Surgery
  • Nursing services
  • Chiropractic services
  • Physical rehabilitation

Preexisting diseases

When you apply for a job, your new employer may require you to be examined by a physician to determine if you already have an occupational disease. If the examination reveals that you do, your new employer may require you to sign a written document waiving any claim for compensation should your disease become worse. This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.