An asbestos-related disease is a medical condition that a person can contract if they inhale asbestos fibres.
A person has a compensable disease if they have an asbestos-related disease and the contraction of that disease is reasonably attributable to exposure to asbestos as a worker during a relevant employment period connected with Tasmania.
Compensable services mean medical services, hospital services, nursing services, ambulance services, constant attendance services or rehabilitation services.
Imminently Fatal Asbestos-Related Disease
An imminently fatal asbestos-related disease is one where the sufferer has a prognosis of less than 2 years life expectancy.
Non-Imminently Fatal Asbestos-Related Disease
A non-imminently fatal disease is one where the sufferer has a prognosis of more than 2 years life expectancy.
If your claim for compensation is accepted the Asbestos Compensation Commissioner will pay reasonable medical expenses which may include:
- Attendance, examination or treatment of any kind by a medical practitioner, dentist, physiotherapist or psychologist.
- Provision, maintenance, adjustment or replacement of medical or surgical aids or curative appliances or apparatus.
- Medicines or materials provided by a pharmacist.
- Any examination, test or analysis carried out at the request of a medical practitioner, dentist, physiotherapist or psychologist.
- Reports or certificates in respect of an examination, test, or analysis.
- Reasonable travel expenses for travelling to examinations and obtaining medical services. The costs of a companion person may also be paid where this is medically necessary.
It is important that you contact the Commissioner before you incur any of these expenses. The Commissioner must ensure that the medical expenses incurred are related to your disease (and not some other illness) before a payment will be made.
In the event of an emergency where a severely ill person requires an ambulance and hospital admission it is not necessary to first contact the Commissioner before making arrangements for care.
Member of the Family
A member of the family means a:
- spouse; and
- a child of the person, including an adopted child, who was less than 22 years of age at the time of death. A stepchild may also be nominated as a member of the family in certain circumstances.
A spouse includes a person to whom the worker is married and a person with whom the worker is in a significant relationship within the meaning of the Relationships Act 2003. A significant relationship is a relationship between two adults who have a relationship as a couple, and who are not married or related by family.
State of Connection
To be eligible for compensation, the exposure to asbestos which is related to your asbestos-related disease must have been connected with Tasmania.
If a worker 'usually' performed their job in a particular State or Territory, then their employment is deemed to be connected with that jurisdiction.
However, a worker may also be eligible if they were usually based in Tasmania for the purposes of work, or where Tasmania was their employer’s principal place of business. So, even if a worker happened to be outside Tasmania when (occupationally) exposed to asbestos, compensation may be payable as long as the worker’s employment was connected with Tasmania.
When deciding whether a worker 'usually worked' in Tasmania consideration will be given to the worker’s occupational history.
Weekly Payments - Entitlement
A person who is partially or totally incapacitated for work because of a non-imminently fatal asbestos-related disease may be eligible to receive weekly payments in addition to lump sum compensation. This would apply where they were:
- employed for at least 2 months immediately before making the application for compensation; or
they were employed for a total of 6 months in the 12 month period before the application was made and would have been employed on the date the application for compensation was made if they did not have the asbestos-related disease.
To be entitled to compensation under the Asbestos Related Diseases (Occupational Exposure) Compensation Act 2011 (the Act), a person must be, or must have been, a worker as defined under the legislation at the time of exposure to asbestos. You are still defined as a worker if you have retired.
A worker is a person who has or had entered into or works or worked under a contract of service or training agreement with an employer.
Certain people are also deemed to be workers under the Act. They include:
- Taxi drivers and hire-car drivers where they drive the vehicle with the consent or authority of a person who holds the licence or authority in Tasmania to operate the vehicle. This does not apply to a driver where the driver is also the holder of the licence or authority;
- People engaged in plying for hire vehicles or vessels, where the use of the vehicle or vessel is obtained from the owner under a contract;
- Jockeys and apprentice jockeys;
- Ministers of religion;
- Volunteers engaged in fire-fighting or fire prevention operations;
- Volunteers engaged in providing ambulance services; and
- Police volunteers.
Other people and volunteers may also be prescribed to be workers.
Certain people are not workers. These include:
- People employed as outworkers;
- People employed in employment of a casual nature other than for the purposes of the employer’s trade or business;
- Persons employed as a member of a fishing boat who is remunerated wholly or mainly by share in the profits of gross earnings in respect of that boat;
- People participating in an approved program of work for unemployment payment under the Social Security Act 1991 (Commonwealth);
- Persons who are Commonwealth employees when relevant exposure to asbestos occurred; and
An asbestos-related disease is automatically deemed to be reasonably attributable to workplace exposure where the person:
- was a worker for at least 12 months during a relevant employment period connected with Tasmania; and
- worked at a workplace which manufactured asbestos products; and
- was in an occupation where it may be reasonably assumed that the person was likely to have been exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos Compensation Tribunal
The Asbestos Compensation Tribunal is an independent body established under the Act. It has primary responsibility for determining disputes about asbestos compensation. The types of disputes that the Tribunal deals with include:
- liability for a claim;
- issues concerning weekly payments such as the start, amount, reduction or end of payments;
- payment of medical and other services; and
- reimbursement of travelling expense.
The Tribunal has specific forms for referral of disputes. You can get these forms by calling the Tribunal on (03) 6166 4750 or by visiting the website www.asbestostribunal.tas.gov.au