Occupational Health Perspective
Chair of the Gradual Process and
Occupational Disease Panel
Lawyer working in employment and personal
Outline of Presentation
The assumption in this presentation is that everyone
wants workers to be healthy, but those workers who
suffer occupational disease ought be covered and
compensated by the NZ accident compensation
The Gradual Process Panel was established by the
IPRC Act 2001 to address issues concerning GP
conditions, and occupational disease.
This presentation focuses on one aspect of ACC’s
work: occupational disease.
Outline of Presentation
We will identify the Law Commission approach to
extension of the scheme to cover sickness and
We will look at how the scheme has evolved over
the last 50+ years .
We will identify the areas where NZers are failing to
We will look at the challenges for ACC under the
How NZers would be affected if private insurers
administered work cover.
The Woodhouse Report: 1967
Proposed to retain cover for certain industrial
diseases as provided for in the WC Act.
Deafness from noise should be included.
Deaf persons should have the advantage of a
Personal Injury: prevention and recovery
Report of the Law Commission 1988
Authored by Sir Owen Woodhouse and Sir Ken Keith
The Law Commission recommended:
Extension of the scheme in stages
Phasing in through acceptance of industrial disease
Adding a detailed specification of injury causes as a schedule
to the legislation
Using the International Classification of Diseases – WHO
That classes could be added or reduced
That the requirement of relevant employment within 2 years
be removed; and
That all incapacity (within scope of legislation) arising after 1
April 1974 should be covered.
The scheme has evolved
The accident compensation scheme is adaptable.
This presentation shows how the Law Commission
recommendation of phasing or staging the extension
of scheme by extending cover for occupational
diseases has occurred over the last 50+ years.
Timeline of changes to the scheme
1956 – prescribed period – 2 years from date of
1972 – prescribed period – 2 years
1982 – exposures from employment after 1.4.74
1988 – Law Commission Report
1992 – incapacity arises after 1.4.74
1998 – incapacity arises after 1.4.74 and presumptive
schedule lists 11 diseases
2001 – presumptive schedule lists 17 diseases
2008 – presumptive schedule lists 41 diseases
2008 – legislation changes to ease burden of proof on claimants,
provide greater flexibility to amend schedule 2, clarifies
ACC’s responsibility to pay for the investigation of claims
2009- What happens if National gives the scheme to private
ACC - claims for occupational disease -
25,014 claims lodged
17,103 claims accepted
7911 (32% declined)
$130 m spent per annum
Most common claims accepted:
NOHSAC: How many work related diseases and injuries occur
in NZ each year?
700- 1,000 people die from work related
100 die from injuries received at work
20,000 new cases of work related disease
and injury occur
Speculation that there is under claiming for
occupational disease claims
Why are NZers not claiming for
occupational disease cover?
The DOL says:
NZers lack of awareness of occupational
There is a lack of awareness that the scheme
covers occupational disease; and
Are reluctant to make a work injury claim
Reluctance to claim because it will require
disclosure of personal details/life style/health
Cost, time, effort
What are the occupational diseases in NZ?
Noise induced hearing loss – noise
Dermatitis – hazardous substances – skin
Cancers – hazardous substances – carcinogens
Musculoskeletal disorders – physical and
Respiratory disease – hazardous substances
What occupational diseases should ACC focus on in order to
Of the 700-1,000 workers who die – 30-40%
are caused by cancer – mainly lung cancer
Lung cancer due to asbestos, diesel fumes,
Mesothelioma due to asbestos
Leukaemia from benzene..
Bladder cancer from dyes, paints, solvents….
Work strain, e.g. shift work
Carbon monoxide from engine exhausts
Environmental tobacco smoke
Exposures to dusts
What is being done?
Two workplace surveys are underway
(Massey – 5,000 workers) & Uni of Otago –
smaller number but more detailed).
Some of the larger employers collect
information about occupational disease.
Some Govt agencies collect data.
What should we be doing better?
Overall – information is: fragmented, under
resourced, lacks strategic direction and co-
Surveys have not routinely or systematically
been done across NZ.
Therefore surveying of workers, workplaces
and specific exposures is a priority.
Measurement of personal and area
exposures is required.
If we want to improve knowledge in NZ
We need to describe the hazards by
occupation, industry, geography and worker
Describe hazard controls.
Identify new and emerging hazards.
Changing Workforce: some challenges
Casual and part time workers
The Self employed
Workers less unionised
The Challenges to ACC
Getting information out to the medical fraternity, workers, unions,
employers and the self employed about occupational disease.
Co-ordinating the surveys and data collection of workers and
Publicising the fact that workers can be covered for occupational
Giving effect to the 2008 amendments in the IPRC Act.
Understanding the purpose of a presumptive schedule.
Reducing barriers to access by claimants to ACC cover and
Challenges to workers if the scheme is administered by private
Risk rating will discourage employers from
participating in surveys – why would you
identify problem areas in your industry?
Culture of ignorance about occupational
disease will continue to prevail
No incentive on insurers to ensure claimants
are covered for occupational disease
Difficulties proving cause will be magnified
The Law Commission recommendation to
phase in an extension of the scheme through
coverage of occupational disease remains
ACC has many challenges ahead.
If private insurers are involved we will not see
improvement in the coverage and delivery of
entitlements for NZ workers who suffer from