Allergic reaction payouts sting ACC in the pocket

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2014

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Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been paid out to people who had allergic reaction at work, according to the Accident Compensation Corporation.

Figures obtained by The Press under the Official Information Act show more than $280,000 was paid out in the year ending June 30, 2012, to people who had anaphylactic or allergic reactions to food or insect venom or another substance in their workplace.

That figure was just over $131,000 for the year ending June 30, 2013. The discrepancy between the two years is because not all claim costs have been submitted yet, with some employers waiting until the end of the tax year in March.

Payouts were made for a number of reasons, including allergies to chemical products and plants, adverse food reactions, and allergic reactions to bees, wasps and insects.

Other than for unspecified allergic reactions, insect bites cost ACC the most, with $77,565 paid out for the 2011/12 year and $67,442 the following year.

A WorkSafe NZ spokesman said employers had to ensure employees were fully aware of any hazards which existed in workplaces and had to provide personal protective equipment for staff who were handling material that could be hazardous to their health - for example, providing gloves to those working with cleaning materials.

Employers were required under the Health and Safety in Employment Act to identify potential hazards and to have plans for dealing with those hazards.

This included how to deal with sudden medical emergencies, such as anaphylactic shock, whether from known or unknown agents.

"Employees who have allergies or known toxic reactions should tell their employers so management strategies can be put in place to eliminate, isolate or minimise the impact or exposure," he said.

It was important employees informed their employers if they discovered potential occupational health issues or were exposed to any substance that had caused or might cause a negative reaction.

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- The Press

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