These and similar cases would fall within the occupational disease law due to the problem of identifying an "accident" date and also because there is a need to distinguish between diseases one acquires at work because of the nature of the work from those diseases that one may have acquired at work but is not "peculiar" to the employment (e.g., exposure to flu virus).
Legislative Recognition of Occupational Disease Claims. The original Workers' Compensation Law did not recognize injuries that were not the result of an "accident" even if the condition was clearly work related. Occupational diseases first were accepted as compensable in Louisiana through a legislative amendment to the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Law in 1952. However, this law limited the claims to a specific list of diseases (e.g., silicosis).
a. Legislative Expansion of Occupational Disease Claims
In 1975 the legislature amended the occupational disease act by removing the requirement that the disease fit the specific listing and substituting instead a broad definition of occupational disease.
However, under this more liberal definition was included the requirement that the disease be one that is "characteristic of and peculiar to” their job. La. R.S. 23:1031.1
b. An occupational disease means only that disease or illness which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment in which the employee is exposed to such disease.
- Asbestosis - Hawkins v Johns-Manville Corporation, 418 So.2d 725 (La. App. 4th Cir. 1982). Manufactured asbestos shingles.
- Silicosis - Schouest v J. Ray McDermott & Co., Inc., 411 So.2d 1042 (La. 1982). Painter/sandblaster.
- Bullous emphysema - Zeringue v Fireman's Fund American Insurance Company, 271 So.2d 613 (La. App. 1st Cir. 1972). Worked for lumber company, exposed to toxic substances used to paint wood products.
- Bronchial asthma - Hebert v Lake Charles American Press, 427 So.2d 916 (La. App. 3d Cir. 1983). Machine operator exposed to chemicals in printing.
- Myelogenous leukemia - Stutes v Koch Services, Inc., 94-782 (La. App. 3d Cir. 12/7/94), 649 So.2d 987, writ denied, 95-0846 (La. 5/5/95), 654 So.2d 335. Truck driver exposed to Benzene when gauging, sampling and testing oil.
- Dermatitis - Oliveaux v Riverside Nursing Home 29,419 (La. App. 2d Cir. 4/2/97), 691 So.2d 340. Kitchen assistant, allergic reaction to latex gloves.
c. Cumulative Trauma as Occupational Disease
i) The occupational disease law also expresses a legislative exclusion of cumulative trauma disorders (e.g., "degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, arthritis of any type" La. R.S. 23:1031.1 B
. The one exception to this limitation is the recognition of "work-related carpal tunnel syndrome" (La. R.S. 23:1031.1 B)