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Important to retain confidence in ACC

Media release
3 October 2006

Important to retain confidence in ACC


A proposal to increase the number of occupational illness covered by ACC could have important consequences for employer confidence in the scheme, says Business NZ.

Business NZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says employers take health and safety issues very seriously.

Mr O’Reilly says employers will probably agree with some of the new conditions proposed for ACC coverage, but definitely not others.

“The problem is that employers may be required to pay for some illnesses that are caused by factors outside the workplace.

“For some conditions on the list, it’s difficult to determine the cause of the problem. Hearing loss, for example, could well be caused by loud music and iPod use. Employers should not have to pay higher ACC levies for that.

“It’s also hard to determine the origin of asthma and dermatitis - these are medical conditions that are widespread and not necessarily linked to the workplace.

“The proposal is being defended by saying there’ll be ACC cover only where a diagnosis clearly links the condition with something in the workplace. But diagnosis is often not that clear-cut - you often can’t make a clear causal connection.

“The danger is that medical practitioners may assume a ‘default’ workplace cause in situations where the diagnosis isn’t clear. The result would be employers paying for treatment that should instead be paid by individuals or taxpayers generally.

“Thousands of small businesses contribute an enormous amount of money towards ACC through the employer account and it’s important those businesses keep their confidence in the ACC system,” Mr O’Reilly said.

ENDS

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