Occupational diseasesGo to:

What are occupational diseases?subir

An occupational disease is a disease resulting from exposure during employment to conditions or substances that are detrimental to health.

The European schedule of occupational diseases was approved by European legislation in 2003 by the Commission Recommendation 2003/670/EC. It includes the diseases classified as work-related and the tasks and substances that imply the risk of contracting them.

Legally speaking, to have a recognition of an occupational disease, it should be contracted by employees in activities specifically defined in the national list of occupational diseases (developed for the implementation of the European Schedule of occupational diseases), and also, the disease should be caused by the action of elements or substances indicated in that list.

If workers are affected by diseases mentioned in the list and their professional activity implies contact with hazardous agents that cause such diseases, those diseases may be recognized as work-related and workers are entitled to the compensation by the social security system, when applicable. Once an occupational disease is registered as such, authorities must investigate its causes, identify it in occupational risk assessments and adopt the necessary preventive measures.

Many work-related diseases are not included in the European list of occupational diseases, due to, among other reasons, the unspecific character of many health disorders. Compensation rights for these diseases require workers to prove that their ailment is caused by work activity. In such cases they are recognized as work-related injuries (accidents).

What to do?subir

Know which occupational diseases can be caused by the hazardous chemicals used in your company.

Confirm that the company carries out an adequate planning of preventive action against occupational diseases.

Confirm that adequate health surveillance procedures are carried out by the company for the early detection of occupational diseases.


The Commission Recommendation 2003/670/EC of 19 September 2003 concerning the European schedule of occupational diseases (annex I), should be introduced into the European national legislations.

This list is structured in 5 main sections as follows:

Group 1

Diseases caused by chemical agents

Group 2

Skin diseases caused by substances and agents not included under other headings

Group 3

Diseases caused by the inhalation of substances and agents not included under other headings

Group 4

Infectious and parasitic diseases

Group 5

Diseases caused by physical agents

Related legislation and policiessubir


The consulted sources for the development of this list are:

ListSourceDate of publication
Occ. Dis. Commission Recommendation. 2003/670/EC2003

Last updatesubir

July 2012


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