Workers that are frequently exposed to manufacturing materials like dust may be at risk of injury if the correct respiratory equipment is not used.
The range of diseases covered by workers’ compensation legislation is constantly expanding. Occupational cancers are now more frequent.
The link between toxic substances and cancer was explored in a workers compensation case in 2014.
This case involved a 54-year-old ex-smoker who developed lung cancer and consequently had the lung removed. His initial claim for compensation had been rejected on the basis that his cancer was unrelated to his employment.
A Judge of the County Court found that the worker’s welding work had significantly contributed to him contracting the disease as opposed to him smoking cigarettes. This was concluded from evidence provided by medical experts that welders were at a higher risk of contracting such cancers than non-welders.
Further, it was found that the employer did not fit fans and extraction devices and properly ventilate the factory. They also failed to provide the worker with a face mask in his first year of employment to protect him from the white smoke that filled the factory.
Due to negligence by the employer, the worker was therefore entitled to damages for pain and suffering, economic loss both past and future, and any medical and similar expenses incurred as a result of his illness.
Why is this case important?
Workers and employers should be reminded that if they work in a high-risk industry such as welding, there are things they can do to help reduce their risk of exposure including:
- using respiratory protection such as masks
- increasing ventilation in the work place
- turning off equipment when they are not in use
- taking regular breaks to ensure they are not exposed to the chemicals for long periods.
If you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed with an occupational disease, and you are unsure whether it has been contracted in, or caused by, your employment, call (03) 9321 9988 and speak directly to a lawyer.