Historical review of the List of Occupational Diseases recommended by the International Labour organization (ILO)

  • Kim E
  • Kang S
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The list of occupational diseases established in the international and national legal system has played important roles in both prevention of and compensation for workers’ diseases. This report reviewed the historical development in the ILO list of occupational diseases and suggested implications of the trends. Since the first establishment of the ILO list of occupational diseases in 1925, the list has played a key role in harmonizing the development of policies on occupational diseases at the international level. The three occupational diseases (anthrax, lead poisoning, and mercury poisoning) in the first ILO list of occupational diseases, set up in 1925 as workmen’s compensation convention represented an increase of occupational diseases from the Industrial Revolution. Until the 1960s, 10 occupational diseases had been representative compensable occupational diseases listed in Convention No. 121, which implies that occupational diseases in this era were equated to industrial poisoning. Since 1980, with advancements in diagnostic techniques and medical science, noise-induced hearing loss, and several bronchopulmonary diseases have been incorporated into the ILO occupational list. Since 2002, changes in the structure of industries, emerging new chemicals, and advanced national worker’s compensation schemes have provoked the ILO to revise the occupational disease list. A new format of ILO list appended in Recommendation 194 (R194) was composed of two dimensions (causes and diseases) and subcategories. Among 50 member states that had provided their national lists of occupational diseases, until 2012 thirty countries were found to have the list occupational diseases having similar structure to ILO list in R194.




Kim, E.-A., & Kang, S.-K. (2013). Historical review of the List of Occupational Diseases recommended by the International Labour organization (ILO). Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 25(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/2052-4374-25-14

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