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What is an occupational disease?

Like most Minnesota employees, you may be aware that the state may provide workers’ compensation benefits to persons who become injured while on the job. There are also benefits available to survivors if an accident at work results in a fatality. In addition to benefits related to an injury or death, the state’s program can also provide benefits to you if you have experienced an illness connected to your employment.

The Office of the Revisor of Statutes explains that such an illness is referred to as an occupational disease and it can be a physical illness or a mental illness. There are very strict laws that govern what can be considered an occupational disease. An employer can only be held liable for conditions that are found to have a direct relationship to the employment and involve a danger that is known to be associated with a specific line of work or industry. The illness must also not have any potential cause other than that connected to employment.

Post traumatic stress disorder is the covered mental condition under Minnesota law so long as the disease was contracted during the performance of job duties. Mental anguish that results from a layoff or other action is not deemed an occupational disease.

There are special guidelines about occupational diseases for members of municipal or state law enforcement, firefighters, medical first responders, conservation officers, and forest officers. This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about how occupational diseases are handled under workers’ compensation law in Minnesota.

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