1st December 2017, Volume 130 Number 1466

William Ivan Glass, Helen Clayson

Recent newspaper reports1,2 of mesothelioma occurring to two women have highlighted a particularly tragic outcome of the asbestos disease epidemic in New Zealand. An epidemic currently generating six or more…

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Mesothelioma is a fatal disease resulting from asbestos exposure; such exposure usually occurs at work, however if the asbestos fibres are carried to the home from the workplace on the hair, clothes or boots of the worker, then family members in close contact with the worker can be exposed and may develop the disease. Because the link between work and home is not clear, the family member—usually a female—develops mesothelioma unexpectedly. As the family member did not develop the disease at work, ACC compensation is not available.


Family members, mostly female, can be at risk of asbestos-related disease as a result of the transfer of asbestos from the workplace to the home on the hair, boots and clothes of the worker. It is argued that in these cases the home should be recognised as an extension of the workplace and that the employer has a duty of care to contain and control the asbestos. Given these circumstances, the family member with the disease should be entitled to cover under the Accidence Compensation Legislation.

Author Information

William Ivan Glass, Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, Wellington, Principle Advisor—Occupational Medicine, Technical Programmes and Support, WorkSafe, New Zealand Government, Wellington; Helen Clayson, General Practitioner, Masterton Medical, Masterton.


To Grace Chen, researching the National Asbestos Disease Register.


William Ivan Glass, Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, Wallace Street, Wellington.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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