Compensation as cancer linked to chemicals

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 21/09/2012

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Fitzroy Engineering has failed to overturn a decision to award ACC cover to one of its workers who contracted bladder cancer after long-term exposure to chemicals.

On May 18, 2010, ACC accepted boilermaker and welder Larry James McBride's bladder cancer was a work-related, gradual process injury, from exposure to PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).

Fitzroy Engineering appealed the decision, arguing there was no proof that PAHs caused Mr McBride's cancer.

In approving Mr McBride's claim, ACC determined that he had been exposed to PAHs during his employment. This was re-confirmed during a review of the case.

Bladder cancer is listed on ACC's Schedule 2 as an occupational disease.

Fitzroy Engineering said the vast majority of bladder cancers were from unknown causes and that in Mr McBride's case there was insufficient evidence it was caused in his workplace.

In a decision released yesterday, District Court Judge Martin Beattie ruled there was no doubt Mr McBride was exposed to PAHs particularly between 1975 and 1995.

Mr McBride began work at Fitzroy Engineering as an 18-year-old apprentice welder and was more recently a supervisor.

The judge said all that was required was evidence that the claimant, in his employment, was involved in exposure to one of the hazards which are linked to the onset of disease as set out in the relevant clause of Schedule 2.

He determined that "as a matter of fact and law" Mr McBride was therefore entitled to ACC cover for his bladder cancer as a personal injury caused by a work-related disease or infection and as described in Schedule 2.

Yesterday, Mr McBride told the Taranaki Daily News he was now well but declined to comment further saying the matter was between ACC and Fitzroy Engineering.

PAHs are a group of chemicals which occur naturally in coal, crude oil and gasoline. They are also in products made from fossil fuels such as coal tar, pitch, creosole and asphalt.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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