Feb 2022: The second independent review of the Asbestos-Related Diseases (Occupational Exposure) Compensation Act 2011 has begun.
This information is aimed at medical specialists who sit on medical panels for asbestos compensation.
An asbestos-related disease is defined by the Asbestos-Related Diseases (Occupational Exposure) Compensation Act 2011 as a medical condition that is attributable to the person having been exposed to asbestos.
A person is entitled to compensation under the Act if:
- they have an asbestos-related disease, and
- the contraction of the disease is reasonably attributable to exposure to asbestos in the course of their employment, and
- at the time of exposure, employment was connected with Tasmania.
The Act requires that the contraction of the asbestos-related disease is ‘reasonably attributable’ to exposure to asbestos during the course of a person’s employment as a worker. This means there must be a connection between the contraction of the disease and exposure to asbestos at work.
See Asbestos-related diseases medical panel guidance material for more information.
The medical practitioner register
The Asbestos Compensation Commissioner maintains a register of medical practitioners who are suitably qualified and willing to be selected to form a medical panel.
‘Suitably qualified’ means that they are a specialist in a field of medicine in which asbestos-related diseases occur.
The medical panel
The Asbestos Compensation Commissioner convenes three practitioners from the medical practitioner register to form a medical panel to assess applications for compensation.
The medical panel makes determinations based on questions asked by the Commissioner under section 8 of the Act. These include (but are not limited to):
- whether the person has an asbestos-related disease
- if contraction of the disease is reasonably attributable to exposure to asbestos during the course of employment as a worker
- whether or not the person with asbestos-related disease is likely to die within two years
- the degree of impairment or incapacity of the person
- whether the person may recover from the disease or has so recovered.
The medical panel will also determine the following questions for applications made by a family member of a deceased worker:
- whether the deceased worker had an asbestos-related disease or diseases
- what was the asbestos-related disease or diseases
- whether the asbestos-related disease or diseases were likely to have been a significant factor contributing to the worker’s death
- whether the worker had an imminently fatal asbestos-related disease.
The medical panel process
Medical panel members do not physically examine applicants.
The Asbestos Compensation Commissioner refers questions to the medical panel and provides all medical evidence and other information in the Commissioner’s possession likely to help the medical panel to make its decision.
A medical panel must make its decision within 15 business days after referral by the Commissioner. A notice of the medical panel determination is then provided to the Commissioner within 3 business days after the decision is made.
A decision by two or more members of a medical panel is taken to be a decision of the panel.
The Asbestos Compensation Commissioner is bound by the decision of a medical panel.