Is your illness a direct result of your work? How can you be sure? Does it matter as long as the illness presents itself while you’re on the job?

When you’re trying to determine if an injury or illness is related to your job, it’s important to look at all factors of your work. For example, if you’re exposed to chemicals in your 30s, it could take until your 50s before any side effects or illnesses result. You also need to link your work environment to that injury.

What is a work environment? Your work environment is a place where one or more employees work and are present as a condition of employment. That means that you have to be on site because of your job, and that makes the location your workplace and work environment. There are some cases when an injury or illness that happens at work won’t be considered work-related. For instance, if you were visiting your workplace off the clock when you’re injured, you may be considered a member of the public and not an employee at the time of the accident.

If your injury and symptoms show up at work but you were hurt elsewhere, that could also make your illness non-work-related, which could mean you’ll be unable to claim workers’ compensation. The same is true if you’re injured in a voluntary position, like if you’re in an exercise class or baseball game that is not required by your job. Your attorney can discuss your personal situation with you if you’re not clear on if you can file for workers’ compensation or if you’ve been denied and believe you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Regulations,” accessed Dec. 31, 2015