Occupational illnesses

Occupational illnesses are illnesses suffered by insurance policy holders as a result of their occupation and listed in the German Ordinance on Occupational Illnesses (Berufskrankheiten-Verordnung - BKV).
Currently, 77 occupational illnesses are listed as recognised occupational illnesses (Appendix 1 BKV).
Occupational illnesses may be caused by a wide variety of influences that are damaging to health. Consideration is given, in particular, to certain chemicals, physical influences such as pressure, vibrations or carrying heavy loads and working in noisy or dusty environments.
In order to be recognised as an occupational illness, some of the illnesses listed in BVK (e.g. skin diseases, asthma or spinal conditions) require the employee to give up the harmful activity.
You will find a link to the most recently published information sheet or scientific judgement or statement on each of the individual occupational illnesses in the following list:
http://www.baua.de/de/Themen-von-A-Z/Berufskrankheiten/Dokumente/Merkblaetter.html
The decision to recognise an illness as an occupational illness lies with the statutory accident insurance providers. Recognition as an occupational illness is subject to the following requirements: The occupational activity must be the reason for the damage caused to the employee's health. It is not unusual for extensive investigations to be required, especially if the illness was caused years ago (e.g. from handling asbestos).
If an illness is not included in the list of occupational illnesses or if it does not meet the requirements stated there, it is possible, in exceptional cases, for it to be recognised as being "like an occupational illness". This must be backed up, however, by new findings in medical science.
If doctors and employers suspect a case of occupational illness, they are required to submit a report to that effect (notification in the case of a suspected occupational illness). The health insurance companies are also to notify the accident insurance providers as appropriate and the affected party/insured party may also – simply and informally – report his/her illness to the employer’s liability insurance association or accident insurance provider.
The flyer "Berufskrankheiten. Fragen und Antworten" from the DGVU (in German) contains all the important information:
http://www.dguv.de/medien/inhalt/versicherung/dokum/bk_fragen_antworten.pdf

Sources: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the DGUV (German Social Accident Insurance)