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Bradford Welcomes Support For Green ACC Amendment

7 September 2001

Green ACC Spokesperson Sue Bradford today welcomed Government support for a Green Party amendment that establishes an expert panel to advise the Minister on issues such as gradual process injuries and occupational diseases.

Ms Bradford said the amendment was important as it would enable ACC and the Minister to keep up with ongoing developments concerning relationships between workplace environments and illness and disease among workers.

"Ongoing research continues to reveal new links between chemicals, toxins and conditions in workplace environments which have a direct causal relationship with illness and disease," said Ms Bradford.

"If evidence is found of new causal relationships ACC must be able to act quickly to ensure ill workers are able to access treatment, compensation and rehabilitation as quickly as possible.

"The creation of this panel will go a long way towards keeping both ACC and the Minister abreast of the latest research and developments in the area of workplace-related illness and disease and will allow ACC to respond to such developments quickly and appropriately."

Ms Bradford said the diagnosis of gradual process injuries such as occupational overuse syndrome and establishing the links between chemical exposure in the workplace and worker illnesses had at times been contentious issues and sick workers had been traumatised by having to wait for too long to have claims recognised.

The Greens are assisting one woman who is suffering from ongoing respiratory problems, lethargy, nausea, joint and muscle pain, and headaches, as a result of chemical exposure in the workplace. ACC has been slow to accept research that clearly links these symptoms with chemical exposure. ACC continues to work on an exceptions basis rather than accepting claimants symptoms.

This same change and education process has had to occur in relation to other widely accepted workplace injuries such as Occupational Overuse syndrome.

"We believe ACC will be better able to meet its duties if it is assisted by a skilled and knowledgable panel to make rapid, accurate and updated diagnoses of new gradual process and occupational disease claims.

"The Greens are really pleased that the Government has agreed to our amendment which will see such a panel established," said Ms Bradford.

Ends

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