Del Bianco A, Demers PA. Trends in compensation for deaths from occupational cancer in Canada: a descriptive study. Canadian Medical Association Journal Open 2013;1(3):e1-e6.
Background Occupational cancer is the leading cause of work-related deaths, yet it is often unrecognized and under reported, and associated claims for compensation go unfiled. We sought to examine trends in deaths from occupational cancer, high-risk industries and exposures, and commonly compensated categories of occupational cancers. In addition, we compared deaths from occupational lung cancer for which compensation had been given with total deaths from lung cancer.
Methods We used data from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada pertaining to the nature and source of the injury or disease and the industry in which it occurred (by jurisdiction) to describe trends in compensated claims for deaths from occupational cancer in Canada for the period 1997–2010. We used data published by the Canadian Cancer Society inCanadian Cancer Statistics to compare compensated occupational lung cancer deaths with total estimated lung cancer deaths for the period between 2006 and 2010.
Results Compensated claims for deaths from occupational cancer have increased in recent years and surpassed those for traumatic injuries and disorders in Canada, particularly in Ontario. Between 1997 and 2010, one-half of all compensated deaths from occupational cancer in Canada were from Ontario. High-risk industries for occupational cancer include manufacturing, construction, mining and, more recently, government services. Deaths from lung cancer and mesothelioma comprise most of the compensated claims for deaths from occupational cancer in Ontario and Canada. These diseases are usually the result of asbestos exposure. The burden of other occupational carcinogens is not reflected in claims data.
Interpretation Although the number of accepted claims for deaths from occupational cancers has increased in recent years, these claims likely only represent a fraction of the true burden of this problem. Increased education of patients, workers at high risk of exposure and health care providers is needed to ensure that people with work-related cancer are identified and file a claim for compensation.