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"Occupational disease" is "any chronic ailment that occurs as a result of work or occupational activity." Wikipedia

Labor Code §6409 requires that a physician who attends any injured worker "file a complete report of every occupational injury or occupational illness to the employee with the employer, or if insured, with the employer's insurer, on forms prescribed for that purpose by the Division of Labor Statistics and Research."  Subsection (b) defines "occupational illness" to mean "any abnormal condition or disorder caused by exposure to environmental factors associated with employment, including acute and chronic illnesses or diseases which may be caused by inhalation, absorption, ingestion, or direct contact."

In Fruehauf Corp. v. W.C.A.B. (Stansbury) (1968) 68 Cal.2d 569, the Supreme Court held that occupational disease has the same statute of limitations as cumulative traumas: "We are convinced that it was the Legislature's intention to classify injuries resulting from continuous cumulative traumas which are minor in themselves but eventually result in disability as occupational diseases. We perceive no supportable rationale to distinguish the legal effect of such injuries from injuries that occur as a result of continuous, latent exposure to harmful substances. That in the latter situation the insidious agency is a harmful gas or dust whereas in the former it consists of the "splintering of symptoms into small pieces, the atomization of pain into minor twinges" [citations omitted] provides no justification to apply differing rules relative to the statute of limitations."

Labor Code §5500.5 limited liability for occupational disease or cumulative injury claims to the insured employer during the last year "immediately preceding either the date of injury, as determined pursuant to Section 5412, or the last date on which the employee was employed in an occupation exposing him or her to the hazards of the occupational disease or cumulative injury, whichever occurs first." Employers may seek to apportion liability by petitioning for contribution.

See, too Time Limits & Statutes of Limitations and Progressive Disease.

Label Item Links Comments
Labor Code Labor Code §5412: "The date of injury in cases of occupational diseases or cumulative injuries is that date upon which the employee first suffered disability therefrom and either knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, that such disability was caused by his present or prior employment."

Labor Code §5505.5 applies to occupational disease
Labor Code §5412

LC §5500.5 

Regulations/Rules Reporting of Occupational Injury or Illness Reporting regs  
Cases The leading case is Fruehauf Corp. v. W.C.A.B. (Stansbury) (1968) 68 Cal.2d 569 Fruehauf Corp. v. WCAB  
Forms Doctor's First Report of Occupational Injury or Illness  Doctor's First Report of Occupational Injury or Illness   
Websites Index of 53 Occupational Diseases caused by Workplace Chemical and Biological Agents  hz-map index  
Practice Tips Recognize occupational disease by taking an effective history Taking an Effective Occupational History  
Articles Encyclopaedia Britannica on occupational disease Encyclopaedia Britannica
Magazine Articles

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