A man who developed thyroid gland cancer after working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has for the first time won the right to work-related compensation.

While the case ranks as the third time a worker at the Fukushima plant has been recognized as eligible for work-related compensation because of cancer caused by radiation exposure, it is the first instance involving thyroid gland cancer.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced its decision Dec. 16.

The man in his 40s, an employee of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., worked at the Fukushima plant after the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. He was diagnosed with thyroid gland cancer in April 2014.

The man worked at various nuclear plants, including the Fukushima facility, between 1992 and 2012. He was mainly involved in operating and overseeing reactor operations.

After the March 2011 nuclear accident, the man was in the plant complex when hydrogen explosions rocked the No. 1 and No. 3 reactor buildings. His duties included confirming water and pressure meter levels as well as providing fuel to water pumps.

The amount of his accumulated whole body radiation exposure was 150 millisieverts, with about 140 millisieverts resulting from the period after the nuclear accident. Of that amount, about 40 millisieverts was through internal exposure caused by inhaling or other ways of absorbing radioactive materials.

Along with recognizing the first work-related compensation involving thyroid gland cancer, the labor ministry also released for the first time its overall position on dealing with compensation issues for workers who were at the Fukushima plant after the accident.

The ministry said it would recognize compensation for workers whose accumulated whole body dose exceeded 100 millisieverts and for whom at least five years have passed since the start of work involving radiation exposure and the diagnosis of cancer.

Ministry officials said the dose level was not a strict standard but one yardstick for recognizing compensation.

According to a study by TEPCO and a U.N. scientific committee looking into the effects of radiation, 174 people who worked at the plant had accumulated whole body doses exceeding 100 millisieverts as of this past March.

There is also an estimate that more than 2,000 workers have radiation doses exceeding 100 millisieverts just in their thyroid gland.