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Public consultation on Schedule 2 begins

2 October 2006

Hon Ruth Dyson Minister for ACC

Public consultation on Schedule 2 begins

Ruth Dyson, Minister for ACC today announced a public consultation process to determine whether up to 25 more occupational diseases should be added to Schedule 2.

In March this year the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Work Related Gradual Process, Disease or Infection recommended an update to Schedule 2 of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation (IPRC) Act 2001. The Minister will take the public feedback from this consultation process to add to expert recommendations already received to update Schedule 2 by December this year.

Schedule 2 lists specific work-related diseases and the substances known to cause them. It removes the requirement for a claimant to prove the causal link between their condition and their exposure during employment. If the disease and cause that the person is diagnosed with is on the Schedule, ACC is able to presume it was caused by exposure in the workplace, and give claimants cover for the condition.

"As medical knowledge improves, the Schedule needs to be updated to include other diseases which have also been found to have a causal link to employment," says Ruth Dyson.

"This public consultation document will be of interest to employer groups, unions, claimants, health professionals and anyone with an involvement in occupational health."

"By formally recognising these diseases through Schedule 2 it also raises public awareness about the help available from ACC to New Zealanders who develop an occupational disease and makes it simpler for them to get help. I hope it will also lead to greater occupational disease prevention."

The public consultation document aims to add up to 25 additional diseases and causal agents to the current list of 17 on Schedule 2. The list has not been updated since 2002.

Among the new diseases and causes which have been proposed, include Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome diagnosed as caused by hand and/or arm vibration, sino-nasal carcinoma diagnosed as caused by working with wood dust and naso-pharyngeal carcinoma diagnosed as caused by formaldehyde.

The proposed addition of 25 diseases is likely to lead to a small increase in employer and self-employed costs and levies of no more than 1 cent per $100 of liable earnings. It is estimated to increase scheme costs by up to $7 million per year in total.

The deadline for submissions is 5.00pm 31 October 2006.

The submission document is available on the Department of Labour website www.dol.govt.nz and the ACC website www.acc.co.nz or by emailing info@dol.govt.nz with "Review of Schedule 2" in the subject line.

Background

In general, ACC does not cover injuries that are caused by disease, infection or illnesses that result from exposure to a causal agent over a period of time (also known as gradual process), unless they are directly linked to a person's employment.

Under ACC legislation injuries caused by work-related gradual process, disease or infection are covered if they meet specific criteria:

Firstly there must be an injury that is defined in section 26 (this can be an occupational disease)

Secondly there must be a causal link between the injury and the person's employment

People who have been diagnosed with a disease listed in Schedule 2 are able to use a more streamlined system for establishing ACC cover. If a person has a disease caused by exposure to a listed substance, ACC can only decline cover if it establishes that the disease is caused by factors other than work.

ENDS


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