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WorkSafeBC

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Occupational diseases

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Prying the lid off asbestos
Prying the lid off
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Contact information
Reporting and applying for compensation
Registering exposure to a hazardous substance
What is an occupational disease?
Recognized occupational diseases
Asbestos-related diseases
Statistics
Can I sue instead of claiming compensation?

Contact information

For general questions relating to occupational disease claims, call:

  • Team Assistant, Occupational Disease Services/Sensitive Claims Department at: 604 279-8158; or
  • Manager, Occupational Disease Services at: 604 276-3317.

To register an occupational disease claim including asbestos-related disease claims:

  • Call Teleclaim at 1 888 WORKERS (1 888 967-5377), Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The claims representative will also provide a user ID and password so that claim details can be viewed online.

For questions regarding fatalities and/or survivor benefits, call:

  • Sensitive Claims Coordinator at: 604 231-8594; or
  • Manager, Fatal/Sensitive Claims at: 604 279-7495

Reporting and applying for compensation for an occupational disease

Workers, employers, and treating physicians are required to report an occupational disease to WorkSafeBC.

View information on reporting and applying for compensation for an occupational disease.

Registering exposure to a hazardous substance

Due to the latency and long period of exposure required for the onset of some occupational diseases, WorkSafeBC has developed an Exposure Registry Program as a way for workers, employers, and others to register a worker’s exposure to a harmful substance at work.

The information obtained through the registry will be kept as a permanent record of a worker’s exposure and will assist WorkSafeBC in the adjudication of any future claim for occupational disease caused by the workplace exposure.

What is an occupational disease?

An occupational disease is a disease that is caused by exposure to a workplace hazardous substance. A worker may be entitled to compensation for an occupational disease where:

  1. The disease in question is recognized by WorkSafeBC as an occupational disease;
  2. The occupational disease is due to the nature of the worker’s current or past employment; and
  3. The worker is disabled from earning full wages as a result of the occupational disease.

Recognized occupational diseases

WorkSafeBC recognizes an occupational disease:

  • If it is included in Schedule B of the Workers Compensation Act;
  • If it is a disease peculiar to or characteristic of a particular process, trade or occupation. At present, there is only one occupational disease recognized this way — osteoarthritis of the first carpo-metacarpal joint of both thumbs for physiotherapists who perform deep friction massage;
  • If it is listed in the Occupational Disease Recognition Regulation;
  • If it is a prescribed occupational disease for the purposes of the Firefighters’ Occupational Disease Regulation; or
  • On a case-by-case basis on the merits and the justice of the claim. The worker’s exposure must have played a significant role in causing the disease and therefore, be considered to be due to the nature of the worker’s employment.

Further detail on the manner in which WorkSafeBC recognizes occupational diseases is set out in the Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual, Vol. II, policies items #26.00 to #26.04.

Asbestos-related diseases

Asbestos-related diseases are caused by the inhalation of asbestos. Some examples of asbestos-related diseases are: mesothelioma; lung cancer; diffuse pleural thickening or fibrosis; asbestosis; benign pleural effusion; larynx or pharynx cancer; and gastro-intestinal cancer.

Statistics

More information about occupational diseases can be found here: Occupational Diseases in British Columbia, 1987 – 2011.

Can I sue instead of claiming compensation?

It depends. You can’t sue an employer or worker who is a part of B.C.’s workers’ compensation system, whose activities relating to the disease arose out of and in the course of employment; however, there may be another party outside our compensation system who can be sued.

In that case, you have a choice:

You can claim workers’ compensation benefits, and have WorkSafeBC pursue the lawsuit, if it chooses to do so.

or

You can choose not to claim compensation, and pursue a lawsuit yourself. (If you do this, you will not receive workers’ compensation benefits.)

For more information, see Workers’ compensation and injury lawsuits FAQs.