Starting 16 June 2021 a diagnosis of lung cancer with silicosis, or scleroderma with silicosis will automatically considered to be caused by work. This reverses the previous position of requiring a worker to prove that the disease was significantly contributed to by their work before a WorkCover claim would be accepted. This is fantastic news as the last thing an injured worker with a very serious health condition needs to be worried about is proving their case to a WorkCover insurer.
It will still be open to WorkCover to try and establish that the injury is not connected to employment, but it’s likely that in the vast majority of cases that they will not seek to do so.
The new law will come into effect for both new injuries (occurring on or after 16 June) or injuries before that date if the WorkCover claim is lodged on or after 16 June.
These laws will affect both injured workers and their dependants.
The Cancer Council says “It is estimated that 230 people develop lung cancer each year as a result of past exposure to silica dust at work. Not all exposed workers will develop cancer; cancer risk increases with long-term or repeated high-level exposure.”
In the last 15+ years, stone benchtops have become popular and are one of the main causes of silicosis type injuries, with stonemasons being significantly affected. Previously the only related ‘proclaimed disease’ was silicosis with or without pulmonary tuberculosis’.