Beyond accident: A model for the compensation of work-related harm in New Zealand
This thesis examines the compensation of work-related injuries and illnesses under the Accident Compensation Act 2001 (ACA). It proposes a set of legislative reforms to enable fairer and more equitable access to compensation for workers and improvements to work health and safety. This thesis approaches the development of a model for reform as an endeavour within labour law (rather than welfare or insurance law) and adopts a labour law theoretical framework for analysis. This thesis argues that the current coverage problems are a product of the scheme’s unique political history, and starts by outlining the historical origins of the scheme and the political compromises, theoretical tensions, and ideological shifts that have led to the current ACA. It also examines the challenges posed by changes in the nature of work, the workforce, and the ways workers are engaged to perform work. This thesis focusses on the cover of chronic work-related health problems, and, in particular, the complex relationships of causation in work-stress related depression, cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal conditions. While particular attention is paid to the complexities associated with work-stress-related illness the model proposed is intended to improve the cover of, and data collection on, all work-related health problems in New Zealand. This thesis proposes a new Act to replace the ACA, with a new structure, new purpose section and definitions, new cover test, and the creation of a new work-health review panel. The reform proposal is intended to achieve fairer coverage of work-related health problems, and contribute to improvements in work health and safety in New Zealand, ensuring compensation, treatment and rehabilitation is available to the increasing numbers of workers affected, and making those conditions more visible within the workplace injury and illness statistics.