“Infection” is explicitly included in the definition of “occupational disease” that may be covered by the Industrial Insurance Accident Bureau “‘Occupational disease’ means such disease or infection as arises naturally and proximately out of employment under the mandatory or elective adoption provisions of this title.”
To establish an occupational disease, a workers' compensation claimant has to show her disorder arose both (1) “naturally” and (2) “proximately” out of her employment. Potter v. DLI, 172 Wn.App. 301, 289 P.3d 727 (2012). A disease is proximately caused by employment conditions, supporting a finding of “occupational disease,” when there is no intervening independent and sufficient cause for the disease, so that the disease would not have been contracted but for the condition existing in the employment. Raum v. City of Bellevue, 171 Wn.App. 124 (2012). Examples of occupational diseases are lead poisoning, exposure to toxic substance, noise-induced hearing loss, etc. Prolonged standing or movement on cement floors may cause an occupational disease in someone who may be predisposed to foot problems. Simpson Timber Co. v. Wentworth, 96 Wn.App. 731, 981 P.2d 878 (1999). Emotional injury sustained from watching a coworker fall to his death was not “occupational disease” such that an application for disability benefits was governed by two year limitations period. Elliott v. DLI, 151 Wn.App. 442, 213 P.3d 44 (2009).
A worker may also receive compensation for “lit-up” pre-existing conditions. The lighting-up theory provides that if a pre-existing dormant or latent condition is activated or “lighted up” by an industrial injury or occupational disease, the worker is entitled to benefits for the disability. McDonagh v. DLI., 68 Wn. App. 749, 845 P.2d 1030 (1993).