Less than 10 per cent of people diagnosed with occupational cancer in Australia get any compensation, a report has revealed.
Occupational Cancer Costs, a new review of workers’ compensation claims undertaken by Cancer Council Australia, found an average of 395 claims a year were made nationwide for work-related cancers, resulting in payouts of Aus$30 million (£15m), but that was a fraction of those who could possibly apply.
The council says a recent analysis suggests exposure to known cancer-causing agents at work such as dust, chemicals and diesel exhaust could cause up to 5,000 new cases a year in Australia. This meant more than 90 per cent of people diagnosed with a work-related cancer had not received compensation.
Report author Terry Slevin, chairman of Cancer Council Australia’s occupational and environmental cancers committee, said: “Workers who develop cancer because of workplace exposures should receive adequate compensation – but a much better approach for everyone is to ensure appropriate protection is in place to prevent the cancer. If they don’t act, employers and regulators will be sitting on a cancer time bomb.”
He added: “Australian businesses learnt their lesson the hard way when it came to the impact of asbestos and many Australians are still paying the price. We should be able to carry out a day’s work, and go about our working lives without putting themselves at risk of developing cancer. We also need to make sure those who are affected are properly compensated.”
The findings echo those in the UK, where hardly any non-asbestos cancers are compensated, and only a minority of even these asbestos cancers result in payouts. A TUC-backed report published in Hazards magazine in 2013, revealed for most occupational cancers the chances of getting any compensation is below 1 in 50.