*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in New South Wales.

The Dust Diseases Authority of NSW (“DDA”) is a statutory authority which provides compensation to workers who were exposed to asbestos dust and fibre whilst employed in New South Wales.

To receive compensation the worker must have contracted a dust disease such as asbestos related pleural disease, asbestosis, asbestos induced lung cancer and mesothelioma. The worker must also be suffering from a disability as a result of the dust disease. If the worker employed by a Commonwealth entity, such as Telstra, they are not eligible for compensation from the DDA.

The DDA is a “no fault” scheme which means that the worker does not need to prove that their employer was negligent. There is no cost in lodging an application with the DDA. Once an application is lodged, the DDA may collect the workers relevant medical records and/or arrange for the worker to undergo medical examinations including breathing tests and radiological examinations. The application is then assessed by a panel of three respiratory specialists who determine whether the worker suffers from an asbestos related disease and the degree of the worker’s disability.

If the panel finds that the worker suffers from a disability as a result of a dust disease an award will be made in their favour. The award includes a fortnightly payment which is determined on the basis of the worker’s disability and the DDA will also pay for the worker’s medical, hospital and pharmaceutical expenses. Further, if the level of disability exceeds 15% the DDA will also cover the cost of domestic assistance such as gardening and cleaning.

Pleural plaques

Pleural plaques are small areas of thickened tissue in the lung lining which typically develop 20 to 30 years after prolonged exposure to asbestos dust and fibre. Pleural plaques are considered a benign condition which does not cause disability. Pleural plaques are not life threatening however, they do indicate that a person has been exposed to a significant amount of asbestos dust and fibre.

Pleural plaques are not considered a dust disease by the DDA and they cannot cause disability. If the DDA finds that a worker has pleural plaques and no other dust disease they will arrange for the worker to undergo a re-assessment after a period of two years. The DDA arranges re-assessments to investigate whether the worker has developed a compensable dust disease.

If you have been advised that you have pleural plaques Turner Freeman is able to assist you with lodging an application with the DDA. Even if your application is not initially accepted you will undergo regular re-assessments to monitor your condition and if during re-assessment the DDA find that you suffer from a dust disease which causes disability you will be eligible for an award.

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Turner Freeman has the largest asbestos litigation team in Australia and can investigate the source of your asbestos exposure if you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition. Contact us today to speak with our experienced personal injury lawyers to find out more about asbestos disease compensation claim process.