Surveillance of mesothelioma and workers’ compensation in British Columbia, Canada

Kirkham TL, Koehoorn MW, McLeod CB, Demers PA. Surveillance of mesothelioma and workers’ compensation in British Columbia, Canada. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2011; 68(1):30-35.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the rate of workers’ compensation for mesothelioma cases in the Canadian province of British Columbia, examine trends in mesothelioma cases and compensation over time, and identify factors associated with compensation status for mesothelioma cases.

METHODS: Mesothelioma cases in the provincial cancer registry were linked at the individual level with accepted claims for mesothelioma in the provincial workers’ compensation system for the period 1970-2005.

RESULTS: 391 of the 485 workers’ compensated claims were linked (81% match rate) with a record in the cancer registry for an overall mesothelioma compensation rate of 33% over the study period and a high of 49% in the last 5 years. Compensation rates were lower for women, older (retired) as well as younger workers, and sites other than the pleura.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the workers’ compensation rate for mesothelioma increased over time, the rate was much lower than anticipated for cases believed to be work-related cancers. Several key factors may significantly influence awareness by clinicians and workers of the work-relatedness of mesothelioma and of workers’ compensation benefits. Regulatory agencies need to develop policies or effective notification systems to ensure that all newly diagnosed mesothelioma cases seek compensation benefits.