The work is not only a source of accidents, it can also generate various ills such as suicides (and the latest news can be found in a number of them) or else, and this is what I am going to dwell on, diseases .
The Workmen's Compensation Act 1898 did not cover occupational diseases. It will be necessary to wait for the law of October 25, 1919 so that these are assimilated to the accidents at work.
Unlike the accident at work that is characterized by its suddenness or the occurrence of an event at a certain date, the occupational disease is a phenomenon that could be described as progressive under the repeated effect of certain substances, or a pathology resulting from a habitual and repeated exposure of the employee to certain activities.
The originality of the French system of recognition of occupational diseases is based on a classification of occupational diseases in the form of tables annexed to the Social Security Code.
Each table indicates the work likely to cause the disease and lists each of the conditions.
These tables are classified in three categories:
the morbid manifestations of acute or chronic intoxication presented by the employees exposed in a usual way to the action of the harmful agents (for example lead poisoning affection born from the manipulation of the lead: table n ° 1)
microbial infections, (tetanus: table n ° 7)
conditions resulting from work environments or specific attitudes arising from work (deafness: table n ° 42 or ocular affections …)
These tables establish a presumption of imputability between the malice described in a table and the work likely to cause the disease. In short, the affections listed and defined in the tables are presumed to be of occupational origin. Given this presumption, the employee who wants to obtain compensation will not have to prove the causal link between his affection and his work.
Thus, to be compensated, the occupational disease must be recognized as such, by means of tables establishing on the one hand a limiting list of occupational diseases and on the other hand the conditions of entitlement. benefits for each of these diseases.
The pathology of the employee must therefore meet certain conditions:
the disease must be included in one of the tables designating occupational diseases
the illness must be recorded within the period of care
A third condition relating to the performance of the work likely to cause the affection may also be necessary.
The conditions listed are presumed to be of occupational origin when it is established that the employee who suffers from them has been habitually exposed, during his professional activity, to the action of harmful agents.
For example, deafness of an employee is presumed to be attributable to work, since the noises to which he has been exposed during his professional activity appear on the list in Table 42 of occupational diseases.
Concerning the delay in taking charge of the illness, according to Article L 461-2 paragraph 5 of the Social Security Code, it is from the date on which the employee ceased to be exposed to the illness. action of the harmful agents in the tables that the diseases can be taken care of under the professional legislation provided that the first medical observation occurs during the time fixed by each table.
The employee must not have ceased to be exposed to the risk for a given period of time during the first medical observation.
It is therefore the cessation of exposure to risk that marks the starting point of the care period.
In addition, if one or more conditions relating to the delay in the period of taking over, the duration of exposure to the risk or the limiting list of the work are not fulfilled, the disease as it is designated in one of the tables occupational disease can be recognized as work-related when it is established that it is directly caused by the victim's usual work.
Indeed, the major drawback of the system was that a disease not listed on one of the tables of occupational diseases could not be supported as such.