Do You Know the Rule? Wash. Exposed Workers – Presumption of Certain Occupational Diseases

30 Sep, 2022 Frank Ferreri


Olympia, WA ( – As do other states, Washington, by statute, creates a presumption that certain diseases were contracted on the job for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits.

Here’s a look at how those presumptions work in the Evergreen State and when they can be rebutted.



What the presumption applies to

Respiratory disease, except communicable diseases

Heart problems experienced within 72 hours of exposure to fumes, toxic substances, or chemicals at the job site


Beryllium sensitization and acute and chronic beryllium disease

Neurological disease, except communicable diseases

When the presumption for cancer applies

It only applies to any active or former exposed worker who has cancer that develops or manifests itself and who either was given a qualifying medical examination upon becoming such a worker that showed no evidence of cancer or was not given a qualifying medical examination because one wasn’t required

The types of cancers the presumption applies to


Primary or secondary lung cancer, including bronchi and trachea, sarcoma of the lung, other than in situ lung cancer that is discovered during or after a postmortem examination, but not including mesothelioma or pleura cancer

Primary or secondary bone cancer

Primary or secondary kidney cancer

Lymphomas other than Hodgkin’s disease

Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia and mycosis fungoides

Primary cancer of the:

  • Thyroid
  • Male or female breast
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Pharynxk
  • Small intestine
  • Pancreas
  • Bile ducts
  • Gall blader
  • Salivary gland
  • Urinary bladder
  • Brain (only and not including intracranial endocrine glands and other parts of the central nervous system or borderline astrocytomas)
  • Colon
  • Ovary
  • Liver, except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated

How long the presumption applies

The presumption extends to an exposed worker following termination of service for the lifetime of that individual

A worker or the survivor of a worker who has died as a result of one of the conditions or diseases covered under the presumption, and whose claim was denied, can file a new claim for the same exposure and contended condition or disease

The presumption applies to decisions made after June 7, 2018, without regard to the date of last injurious exposure or claim filing

Fees and costs

When a determination involving the presumption is appealed to the board of industrial insurance appeals and the final decision allows the claim of benefits, the board of industrial insurance appeals shall order that all reasonable costs of the appeal, including attorneys' fees and witness fees, be paid to the worker or her beneficiary by the opposing party

When a determination involving the presumption is appealed to any court and the final decision allows the claim for benefits, the court shall order that all reasonable costs of appeal, including attorneys' fees and witness fees, be paid to the worker or his or her beneficiary by the opposing party

How the presumption is rebutted

The presumption of occupational disease may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

Such evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • Use of tobacco products
  • Physical fitness and weight
  • Lifestyle
  • Hereditary factors
  • Exposure from other employment or nonemployment activities

Forms, email updates, legal, regulatory, and compliance information from Washington and 52 other jurisdictions across the U.S. can be found on

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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