Workers Compensation review
On 23 May 2013, the Queensland State Government released the outcome of its review of the Queensland Workers’ Compensation Scheme. Latent onset disease claims, and in particular claims for workers compensation for asbestos related disease, were considered in the review.
Compensation for dust disease claims
Those who have been employed in Queensland and have had exposure to asbestos during that employment will often have compensation entitlements through WorkCover Queensland. These claims are initiated in the same manner as other injuries that occur in the workplace. Generally, lump sum compensation will be available where there is benign dust disease that is causing a reduction in breathing capacity or the diagnosis is of a malignant condition such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.
Lump sum payments will depend on the extent of the reduction in breathing capacity for benign dust disease. Sufferers of mesothelioma and lung cancer receive a statutory lump sum payment which can vary according to age.
Who can lodge a claim with WorkCover Qld
Sufferers of symptom free asbestos disease can still lodge an application with WorkCover Queensland. Queensland workers’ who have been exposed to asbestos can have the medical expenses associated with the ongoing monitoring or their condition paid by WorkCover Queensland.
Workers suffering from asbestos disease or dust disease may have claims for compensation with WorkCover Queensland. These claims can involve complex historical and medical issues. Time limits also apply. Generally, a claim with WorkCover Queensland needs to be lodged within six months of diagnosis of the dust disease although there are circumstances where WorkCover Queensland will grant an extension of this time limit. Family members who were dependent upon a worker who has died from asbestos disease can also claim workers’ compensation.
The Review Committee did report that a consistent national approach to workers’ compensation for asbestos related diseases or dust diseases is appropriate. Safe Work Australia, a national organisation, is currently considering a national system for compensation for asbestos disease. However, it is not expected that such a system will be introduced at any time in the near future.