Deemed Diseases in Australia

Safe Work Australia undertook a project to develop an up-to-date Australian List of Deemed Diseases, based on the latest scientific evidence.

This report reviews the causal link between diseases and occupational exposures for use by Australian jurisdictions considering a revision to the deemed diseases list in their workers’ compensation legislation.

While the report was developed primarily for use by jurisdictions, Safe Work Australia agreed to publish the report as it provides useful evidence-based information for anyone involved in the prevention or compensation of occupational disease.

Most jurisdictions in Australia have enacted special provisions in their workers’ compensation legislation which deem specified occupational diseases as being caused by specified work related activities.

The effect of this is to reverse the onus of proof. A worker with the disease who has been exposed to the relevant exposure in the course of their work is assumed to have developed that disease because of the exposure unless there is strong evidence to the contrary.

Diseases that are not included on the List can still be the subject of a workers’ compensation claim through the normal approach, where the reverse onus of proof would not apply.

The Deemed Diseases approach simplifies relevant claims on the assumption that there is a high likelihood that the disease has arisen as a result of work-related exposures.

An expert in occupational medicine and occupational epidemiology was engaged to work with the Advisory Group on the project.

For more information or to download the report please visit the Safe Work Australia Website.

Source: Safe Work Australia, August 2015