Update from Brendan Nally, DCE People
Nothing is more important at Fire and Emergency than keeping all our people safe and well. We know that our firefighters have an increased risk of certain types of cancer and that exposure to cancer-causing toxins is the reason for this.
You will have seen that ACC has announced on Tuesday a new tool for assessing operational firefighter cancer claims. This is a step in the right direction.
With ACC introducing this new tool, some of our career firefighters experiencing occupational cancer who have been waiting and hoping for ACC support, had claims accepted which we are very happy about.
To be clear, this is a welcomed addition, but there is much more to do in this space.
ACC’s current legislation allows cover for firefighter occupational cancer under the ‘work related gradual process injury’ provision. Due to the wording in the Act this excludes all volunteers including our volunteer firefighters. Ultimately, any legislative change is a matter for Parliament.
However, the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is providing advice on how volunteers in an employment-like relationship can be provided similar cover to employees for accidents that occur while volunteering, without expanding work-based cover under the scheme. This would include volunteer firefighters. We will be following MBIE’s progress on this.
The longer-term aim is to reduce exposures to carcinogens, and we are continually looking at ways to achieve this. We are working alongside our unions and associations on our Carcinogen Control Project (which was established in 2012) to do that. We have already made progress and have put robust processes in place to reduce exposure to toxic carcinogens as much as possible.
We will continue to support any firefighters experiencing occupational cancer.
Deputy Chief Executive - People