Occupational disease

Occupational disease means a breach of health, whose expression is often deferred to exposure to a toxic source or pathogen context suffered during the occupation. This exhibition is sometimes repeated until the first symptoms appear. Immediately following a specific event lesion is generally classified as a workplace accident. In social protection, it gives right to the payment of social transfers.

Lists of the European Union and the International Labour Organization

On 19 September, the European Commission adopted a new recommendation concerning the European list of occupational diseases. Member States are invited to give effect before December 31.

Annex I are occupational diseases for which the hypothesis of a link between the occurrence of the disease and the practice of the profession is sufficiently verified scientifically. Annex II are the diseases whose professional origin is suspected. Unlike a directive or a regulation, a European recommendation has no force of law and not binding for the Member States. The Belgium therefore set itself the national list and the criteria for recognition of occupational diseases. This list is a minimum list and Member States retain the possibility of adopting legislation more favourable to workers and they themselves determine the criteria for recognition of each occupational disease

The International Labour Organization adopted the recommendation No. 194, which also included a list of occupational diseases.

By France

The difficulty of establishing the link between exposure to a risk and disease is at the origin of the French system of the tables of occupational diseases. A disease is professional if it is the direct consequence of the exposure of a worker to risk physical, chemical, biological, or the conditions in which he exercised his professional activity.

In France, occupational diseases respond to a precise legal definition and are supported by social security, the domestic accidents at work and occupational diseases for the regime of trade and industry, the Mutualité sociale agricole for the agricultural scheme. This definition is based on a set of more than 100 tables of occupational diseases.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common occupational diseases at the present time (70% of recognized diseases) and their number increases continuously. Professional, sometimes classified and compensated outside the system of occupational diseases, cancers are responsible for a large proportion of deaths related to the professional activity.

Legal context

The legal notion of occupational disease exist in France since 1919. The first 2 tables of occupational diseases of the regime of trade and industry, created in October 1919 are pathologies related to the use of lead and mercury. 7 First tables of occupational diseases of the agricultural scheme, created in June 1955 are pathologies related to infectious diseases such as the tetanus, leptospirosis, brucellosis… A table of occupational disease describes symptoms and time of recognition of a group of professional pathology related to a same risk (chemical, exposure to noise, etc.) The table also lists a series of trades likely to induce the relevant risk exposure.

The legislation concerning occupational diseases is contained in the code of social security (Title VI of book IV). The Act provides that the tables of occupational diseases are fixed by orders in Council of State. New diseases are thus periodically added, either to the list of occupational diseases of the regime of trade and industry, or to the list of occupational diseases of the agricultural scheme, officially recognized. If a disease is mentioned in an array of occupational disease, it is presumed to be occupational. That is, an employee victim of this disease must merely prove that he exercised one of the mentioned trades and meet Declaration to see his illness recognized as occupational disease. If a disease is not an array of occupational disease, talking about disease professional. Two cumulative conditions must be met to recognize a professional disease: on the one hand the victim must prove the essential and direct link between the professional activity and pathology; on the other hand the victim must have a recognized partial permanent disability exceeding 25% or be died of the consequences of this disease.

Between emerges a new disease of occupational origin and where it will be officially registered to an array of compensation, it will be many years. In the meantime, article l. 461 – 6 of the code of social security shall require any doctor of medicine who may have knowledge to declare any disease likely to have an occupational origin. Therefore, the multiplication of reports of carpal tunnel syndrome has led to the creation of the table 57 (musculoskeletal disorders) that currently represents the bulk of the statements.

Professional pathology

The term illness has a forensic meaning which varies from one country to another and from one era to another and the very restrictive of the statement exclude official recognition much of diseases found in the field.

Also for a more comprehensive view of the disease contracted at work it is better to refer to the term broader and more universal professional pathology.


The prevention of occupational diseases and work accidents is entrusted to various agencies and institutions sometimes act in order dispersed which is detrimental to the consistency of the whole. Among them include occupational medicine services, prevention services of the Fund to pension insurance and health at work (CARSAT), the National Agency for the improvement of working conditions (NAALC), the professional organization of prevention of the building and public works (OPPBTP) acting at the regional level.

At the national level is coordinated by the INRS, INSERM, the InVS (Institute for sanitary Watch), the national agency responsible for the safety of food, the environment and labour (coves) and the list is not exhaustive. In general it’s an equal number managed by representatives of employers and employees organizations.


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