Cash broadens compensable disease list

By Andrew Hobbs on October 6th, 2017
  1. Work Health & Safety Act
  2. Workers' Compensation

EMPLOYMENT Minister Michaelia Cash has extended the list of illnesses and diseases for which Commonwealth public servants and their licensees are able to claim compensation, following the recommendations of a 2015 report.

The new Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Specified Diseases and Employment) Instrument 2017 is designed to be easier to apply than the 2007 instrument it replaces, as it describes more clearly the sort of work an employee must have been doing to be able to claim compensation.

Among the additions are: hepatitis A in workers exposed to human waste – such as childcare workers and carers; hepatitis B and C in workers who contact human bodily fluids – including long term correctional facility workers and emergency services personnel; and HIV/AIDS among healthcare and laboratory workers who become HIV-positive after a needlestick or sharps injury.

Leukaemia will also be added to the list for workers exposed to benzene, cyclophosphamide, formaldehyde or ionising radiation for no less than two years.

The list of compensable causes for occupational asthma was also expanded to include about 300 agents across 27 classes, including some insects and insecticides, acids, ammonias, pesticides, latex, some medications, wood dust, dyes, some foods and irritants derived from animals including fish.

Under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, an employee who suffers from a specified disease, and was engaged in employment of a specified kind at any time before symptoms became apparent, is automatically entitled to workers’ compensation unless it can be established that the job did not significantly contribute to the condition.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation

The changes mentioned above will mostly apply to public servants and some companies doing work for them – but could they apply to you? Do you have a clear understanding of how workers’ compensation laws work in your jurisdiction?

The Health & Safety Handbook features a thorough chapter on workers’ compensation, with comprehensive information for employers covering the following topics:

  • Are you eligible to self-insure?
  • When might a worker make a claim in relation to a journey?
  • When is psychological injury not compensable?
  • How to manage claims to minimise your compensation costs
  • What if you suspect a medical certificate is fraudulent?

The chapter also contains a step-by-step guide for handling claims, templates for a return to work plan and a checklist of what to consider should you be thinking of dismissing an ill or injured worker.

It is just one of 70 chapters within the Health & Safety Handbook. Order your copy today to help avoid a potentially costly disruption.

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