iCare’s Dust Diseases Care – Article #2
Our first article in this series looked at Dust Diseases. Today we look at iCare’s Dust Diseases Care, also known as the Dust Diseases Authority (DDA). The DDA runs the NSW Government’s Dust Diseases scheme which provides financial support to workers who have contracted a dust disease whilst working in NSW.
iCare’s Dust Diseases Care is a statutory based scheme that operates separately from the Dust Diseases Tribunal. It is a “no fault” scheme which means that workers do not need to prove that their employer was negligent in causing their condition to receive compensation. This differs from the Dust Diseases Tribunal which hears civil claims for damages and will only award compensation once it has been proven that the disease was contracted due to the negligence of an employer or third party.
In many cases, workers are eligible to claim compensation from iCare’s Dust Diseases Care and from the Dust Diseases Tribunal.
Who can claim compensation from Dust Diseases Care?
Injured workers are required to satisfy three criteria in order to claim compensation:
- An injured worker must receive a medical diagnosis for one of the dust diseases covered by the scheme which include:
- Asbestos induced carcinoma
- Asbestos related pleural diseases (ARPD)
- Coal dust pneumoconiosis
- Farmer’s Lung
- Hard Metal Pneumoconiosis
- Other pathological conditions of the lungs, pleura or peritoneum caused by the dusts which cause the above diseases.
The DDA will not compensate workers who suffer from Pleural Plaques as this condition does not affect the normal functioning of the lungs or cause noticeable symptoms. However, Pleural Plaques does indicate exposure to asbestos and therefore the Dust Diseases Care will offer ongoing medical examinations to detect any development of a dust disease.
Workers who contract dust diseases whilst working in and around coal mining will not be eligible for compensation by the DDA and should apply to Coal Miners Insurance which is a specialist compensation scheme for the NSW coal industry.
- The worker is able to provide evidence of an employment history which reasonably shows that their disease was caused by exposure to harmful dust particles whilst working in NSW.
- The worker has a level of disability arising from the dust disease which has resulted in partial or total incapacity for work.
What types of compensation are available through Dust Diseases Care?
Injured workers and their dependants can receive compensation in the form of weekly benefits for wage loss, medical treatment expenses, funeral benefits and lump sum compensation:
- Weekly benefits
Where a worker is unable to continue working and their incapacity was at least partially caused by a dust disease contracted whilst working in NSW, the injured worker will be able to claim weekly wage loss for the remainder of their life.
- Medical treatment expenses
Workers can claim reasonable medical treatment and related expenses associated with their work-related dust disease. This may include medical appointments, hospital admissions, pharmaceutical expenses, home modifications and domestic assistance such as cleaning and gardening.
- Funeral Benefits
When a worker who was receiving benefits from iCare’s Dust Diseases Care dies, the DDA will reimburse the estate of the deceased person, up to $9,000.00 for funeral expenses. If there is no estate or executor, the person who paid for the funeral will be reimbursed up to $9,000.00 upon proof of payment.
If a worker dies as a result of a dust disease, the majority of funeral and related expenses will be covered.
- Compensation for dependents
Dust Diseases Care provides compensation to the dependants of the worker. This includes their spouse or partner and their children up to the age of 16 or 21 years of age where they are studying full-time.
Spouses and partners are eligible to receive fortnightly payments for the remainder of their life or alternatively until they remarry or enter into a de facto relationship. A substantial lump sum amount will also be payable to the spouse or partner on top of the fortnightly payments.
Children up to the age of 16 or 21 years who are in full-time education will be eligible to receive an allowance.
How do I apply for Dust Diseases Care?
To begin the process of applying for compensation under Dust Diseases Care, workers need to complete and submit an Application for Compensation form to iCare.
iCare will then begin to take steps to assess the claim and determine the worker’s eligibility for compensation. This will include obtaining clinical records and reports from the worker’s treating doctors and arranging for the worker to attend a medical examination which may also involve undergoing respiratory tests, chest x-rays and CT scans. The worker will also need to provide iCare with a detailed history of their employment and their exposure to harmful dust particles.
Once all of the above information has been collected, the information will be assessed by a medical panel who will determine (1) whether the worker suffers from a dust disease covered by the scheme, (2) whether that disease was contracted whilst working in NSW and (3) the level of disability arising from the disease. An award will then be made in the worker’s favour, allowing them to receive compensation.
To find out whether you are also eligible to claim damages from the Dust Disease Tribunal, keep reading here.