Oral Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2018

Occupational (Lung) Cancers and Compensation (#72)

Arthur Wiliam (Bill) Musk 1 , Fraser Brims 2 , Euan Thompson 2
  1. UWA, Nedlands, WA, Australia
  2. Curtin Medical School, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

Diagnosis: Clinical, Radiographic, Pathological

Burden of disease: 90% of male and 25% of female mesotheliomas and 29% of male and 5% female lung cancers attributable to occupation. Systemic Problems: Establishment of diagnosis, obtaining treatment, initiating treatment, obtaining compensation (complying with Act).Statutory compensation (no fault) WA Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act (1981): Where a worker is rendered less able to earn full wages by reason of suffering from, specified industrial lung diseases (schedule 3): Pneumoconiosis and chronic bronchitis (Compensable in WA goldminers since 1934).     Mesothelioma, (from May 1970). Lung cancer  (from May 1970). Diffuse pleural fibrosis. (from 2009). Medical Panel: 2 or 3 respiratory/occupational physicians nominated by chief executive officer. Questions determined: Is, or was the worker suffering from pneumoconiosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, or diffuse pleural fibrosis? Less able to earn full wages? Fit for work -light, moderate or heavy? Determination of medical panel is final and conclusive and binding on the worker, his employer, and any relevant tribunal. Last employer is liable but may join others. Amount of compensation calculated with reference to the earnings of the worker under the employer from whom the compensation is recoverable. No entitlement to further compensation once the maximum amount has been paid out. Civil litigation/ Common law damages: breach of a common law duty of care: causation issues: expert medical opinion requiring legal representation. May discount damages attributed arbitrarily to smoking. Asbestosis, pleural plaques are not required to attribute lung cancer to asbestos. Damages awarded for pain and suffering/apprehension of illness. Prevention: Production and importation of asbestos into Australia banned since Dec. 2003. Regulation of allowable workplace exposures to carcinogens in place:  asbestos, silica, tobacco smoke.