The Dust Diseases Authority
The Dust Diseases Authority of NSW (“the DDA”) was established by the Workers Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act, 1926.
The DDA provides compensation to workers who were exposed to asbestos dust and fibre during the course of employment in NSW and have contracted a dust disease prescribed by the Act.
These diseases include asbestos related pleural disease, asbestosis, asbestos induced lung cancer and mesothelioma. The DDA does not compensate Commonwealth employees even if the exposure occurred in NSW.
The DDA administers a “no fault” scheme. That is, it is not necessary to prove that your employer was negligent in order to obtain compensation from the DDA.
In order to make a claim on the DDA, you must complete a claim form and provide the DDA with your authority to collect medical records concerning your condition. The DDA then collects relevant medical records from your treating doctors. It is possible the DDA may arrange for you to have a medical examination, breathing tests and a chest x-ray or CT scan. All of that medical information is then considered by a medical panel comprised of three respiratory specialists. If the medical panel decides that you have an asbestos related disease, it then determines the level of disability resulting from the disease. The DDA then obtains a statement from you confirming the circumstances of your exposure to asbestos. An award is then made in your favour.
Once an award is made in your favour, you receive a fortnightly compensation payment which is determined by your level of disability. In addition, the DDA will pay your medical, hospital and pharmaceutical expenses. If your level of disability is 15% or more, then the DDA may pay a contractor to mow your lawn and may pay for carer’s to assist you in the home.
The DDA often recalls workers who have either pleural plaques or benign asbestos related diseases about every two years in order to see if there has been any deterioration in the worker’s condition. The DDA also arranges for re-examination of workers with benign asbestos related diseases for every one to two years. The point of this is to see if the condition has deteriorated.
If a worker dies from a dust disease, the dependent spouse is entitled to make an application to the DDA. If the application is successful then the DDA will pay a substantial lump sum and a fortnightly compensation payment.
If the worker’s death is due to a dust disease then the DDA will pay the majority of funeral and related expenses.
In some cases, a worker has been exposed to asbestos in NSW and outside of NSW or has been exposed at work in NSW and has been exposed while performing building work at home. In those cases, it is still possible to make a claim on the DDA.