What is an occupational disease?

An occupational disease is a disease or disorder that is caused by the work or working conditions.

This means that the disease must have developed due to exposures in the workplace and that the correlation between the exposures and the disease is well known in medical research. Or put in another way, it must not be likely, beyond reasonable doubt, that the disease was caused by factors other than work.

Examples of occupational diseases:

  • Tennis elbow
  • Allergy
  • Hearing loss
  • Asthma

Exposures in the workplace that may cause some of the above diseases:  

  • Repetitive work movements
  • Work with arms lifted above shoulder height
  • Heavy lifting work
  • Work in a very noisy environment
  • Work with hazardous substances

When there is adequate medical documentation that a disease is caused by a certain exposure, the disease is included on the list of occupational diseases.

The list of occupational diseases is a list of work-related diseases which are recognised as industrial injuries if a person has had certain exposures in the workplace. The list is constantly updated so that it covers the most recent research. This is done by the Occupational Diseases Committee, which is composed of representatives from i.a. the Danish Board of Health (Sundhedsstyrelsen), the Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstilsynet), and the parties to the labour market.

Recognition of an occupational disease

In order for you to get compensation and other benefits as a consequence of a disease, the disease must be recognised as an industrial injury.  

A disease can be recognised in two different ways:

  • If the disease and the exposure causing the disease are on the list of occupational diseases, we recognise the disease as an occupational disease
  • If the disease is not on the list of occupational diseases, it is still possible to recognise it as an occupational disease if the Occupational Diseases Committee, in their recommendation, state that it is likely, beyond reasonable doubt, that the disease was caused by special factors in the workplace