It is difficult to know how many countries use this list or specific definitions of occupational diseases. What we do know, is that in several Western/European countries this list is refined to fit in the local legislation. Many developing countries do not have such a list, or only a very short one. This is due to a fragmented social security system or even lack of social benefits in many developing countries.
Some countries use a so called “list system”. This system covers only a certain number of work-related diseases, and has the advantage of listing diseases for which it is presumed that they are of occupational origin. This simplifies the matter for all parties since it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to prove or disprove that a disease is directly attributable to the patient’s occupation. It also has the important advantage of indicating clearly, where prevention should focus. Other countries use the “general definition system”. This system theoretically covers all occupational diseases; it affords the widest and most flexible protection, but leaves it to the victim to prove the occupational origin of the disease. In practice, it also often implies that arbitration on individual cases is necessary. Furthermore, no emphasis is placed on specific prevention. Because of this marked difference between the “general definition” and “list” systems, a “mixed system” has been favoured by many ILO member states because it combines the advantages of the other two without their disadvantages.There are several reasons to have a compensation system related to occupational diseases. The most obvious one is, of course, for worker protection. If a person is harmed at work, he or she should be compensated. No work place should produce diseased persons. Often, the diseases lead to a serious situation for the worker. He or she might not be able to continue the work due to a serious disability. Also, the work may worsen the health condition developed. Lung diseases due to dust exposure, for instance, may become more severe if the work and exposure continues. It may even be necessary for the worker to leave the work situation completely to stop the disease from developing further.Another reason for using specific definitions for occupational diseases is the fact that countries with such systems can keep better records of the incidence of given diseases. This is particular important for situations where public social benefits are related to particular occupational diseases. It involves a national registry system and physicians in each country are most often asked to report any such cases to the national authorities. This, in turn, makes it possible to generate national statistical analyses of a country’s occupational disease situation. The possibility of economic compensation for the worker is a primary motivating factor for the reporting of such diseases. One positive benefit from such disease statistics in a country is the opportunity it provides to evaluate the need for preventive procedures at work places. Thus the reporting systems functions for the benefit of all workers. The compensation system may act as an indirect catalyst as incentive for establishing preventive measures. The cost of compensations for the employer and the society may highlight the need for prevention, to avoid such expenses. It is therefore highly recommended that all countries develop both compensation systems and reporting systems for occupational diseases.In the next step we will take a look at some examples of occupational diseases from ILO’s list and consider some relevant occupations at risk. While we will only give you short descriptions here, in the coming sessions of this course you will have opportunities to learn more about these diseases.We will start by letting Dr Willian Howlett from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center tell you about silicosis, one of the most common work-related lung diseases worldwide.
We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.
We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas. You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.