ACC active claims down 50% since '06

The number of active workplace death claims in Otago handled by ACC has almost halved since 2006.

In 2006, 13 new claims resulted from accidental workplace deaths in Otago, and payments were made on an additional 47 historic claims.

This year, payments had been made on 31 claims by the end of May.

The number of active claims has been sliding since 2006 - when 60 active claims in Otago cost $2.24 million.

Last year, only 39 claims were active, at a cost of $1.1 million.

ACC law specialist Hazel Armstrong said the numbers probably reflected more people taking lump-sum compensation payments rather than weekly payments and decreasing numbers of historical compensation claims.

''I don't see anything sinister in it,'' she said.

When the corporation was founded in 1974, spouses of people who died accidentally in the workplace could receive compensation until they were eligible for a government pension.

People now were entitled to receive compensation for five years or until their youngest children turned 18.

ACC spokesman Glenn Donovan said the decline in active claims was probably because people who lodged claims in the early days of the scheme were now pensioners.

''I can't see any conclusions that you could draw from a fall in active claims,'' he said.

''It's not reflecting any change in entitlements.

''The entitlements that apply in these circumstances are fairly clear-cut.''

Accidental deaths entitle the family to a funeral grant of $5788.92, a one-off survivor's grant, weekly compensation and child-care payments.

Ms Armstrong said the entitlements were controlled by legislation and ''there's been no changes there''.

Since 2002, people had been able to opt for lump-sum compensation payments instead of weekly payments, which might have resulted in fewer active claims year to year.

Statistics from WorkSafe New Zealand showed 15 people died in the workplace in Otago from 2009-13.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

 

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