Developments since 2008

This section describes the developments in occupational disease recognition and research since Schedule 2 was last updated in 2008.


The ILO List was most recently updated in 2010.

ILO List of Occupational Diseases(external link) — International Labour Organization

The ILO List includes a range of occupational diseases, from illnesses caused by chemical, physical and biological agents to respiratory and skin diseases. Mental and behavioural disorders were also specifically included for the first time in the ILO List. Under the AC Act, as explained on pages 9 and 10 of this document, work-related mental injury is covered separately to WRGPDI injury and will not be considered in this review.

In 2013, the ILO recommended that member states take a ‘gender sensitive’ approach when reviewing and developing occupational health research and legislation.[1]This approach is not designed to negatively impact any group of individuals. The approach recognises that workers are exposed to different risks and may react differently to the same risks because of their different biological makeup. It also recognises that different societal roles, expectations, and responsibilities may influence the exposures that workers have in the workplace.

Safe Work Australia

In Australia, there are 11 main workers’ compensation systems. Each of Australia’s states and territories have developed their own compensation scheme and there are 3 Commonwealth schemes.

Most jurisdictions in Australia have a Deemed Diseases List as part of their workers’ compensation scheme. The Deemed Diseases list comprises diseases which are deemed to be work-related.

Safe Work Australia commissioned a review of the 2015 Deemed Diseases as part of a bigger project with the objective of having an updated list, to address the issue of the list not being commonly used as the basis for claims. The review was published in November 2021[2], containing recommendations of new diseases and associated exposures to be added to the Deemed Diseases List.

The recommendations informed the most recent Revised List of Deemed Diseases in December 2021.

Revised List of Deemed Diseases(external link) — Safe Work Australia

The Deemed Diseases List is useful in informing a review of Schedule 2. The Deemed Diseases List works similarly to Schedule 2 in that it is designed as a streamlined route to workers’ compensation claims. This compares with an alternative process of demonstrating a multi-factorial disease is more likely to be caused by work than non-work factors, similar to the AC Act three-step test.

However, the Deemed Diseased List was produced for the context of Australian workers’ compensation systems. The Schedule 2 review framework includes criteria for inclusion in Schedule 2 which differ from those used for the Deemed Diseases List.

Review framework for list of occupational diseases

Mental injury is also included in the scope of the Deemed Diseases List. Under the AC Act, as explained in the scope section of this document, work-related mental injury is covered separately from WRGPDI injury and will not be considered in this review.

Aotearoa-focused research

Aotearoa-focused occupational health research has not presented any new occupational diseases outside of the ILO List, but it has developed in the last 14 years with a growing focus on understanding the impact of diseases on traditionally under-represented populations in research. This recognises the lack of detailed information regarding ethnicity and occupational diseases in much of the published research in Aotearoa New Zealand.[3]

It was also recognised by the National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee’s 2014 report that the vast majority of published research in Aotearoa New Zealand presents information only, or predominantly, on men. This means it could be more difficult to prove a causal relationship between an occupation that women are more likely to participate in and its associated occupational disease.

WorkSafe New Zealand and Massey University have conducted studies and surveys to improve understanding of the exposure to work-related health risks in Aotearoa New Zealand workplaces. A 2022 Massey University study on occupations and ischaemic heart disease (a work-related disease) in the general and Māori populations of New Zealand concluded that current knowledge of exposure to occupational risk factors may not be generalisable across different population groups.[4]

A review will be able to consider new research since 2008, particularly for those typically under-represented in occupational health research such as Māori and women, in the context of updating Schedule 2.

Use of developments

The 2010 ILO List and Safe Work Australia’s 2021 Revised Deemed Diseases List will inform consideration of diseases for inclusion in Schedule 2. Submitters should be aware that a disease being on either of these lists, or submitted as a suggestion through this consultation, does not guarantee its inclusion in Schedule 2.  

Proposed changes to Schedule 2 must still be assessed independently by experts against the technical criteria to inform recommendations. The experts will use a gender-sensitive approach to inform their recommendations and understand how the diseases impact different population groups in Aotearoa New Zealand, to the extent that is possible.

MBIE will then consider the recommendations in the context of the objectives of the review, cost estimates and the type of cover provided under the AC Scheme.

[1] International Labour Organization, 10 Keys for Gender Sensitive OSH practice – Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming in Occupational Safety and Health, 2013.

[2] Driscoll T, SWA Deemed Diseases List Recommendations for amendments to 2015 List: final report, 2021. 

[3] Denison, HJ., Eng, A., Barnes, LA., Cheng, S., Mannetje, A., Haddock, K., and Ellison-Loschmann, L., Inequities in exposure to occupational risk factors between Māori and non- Māori workers in Aotearoa New Zealand, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 72(9), 809-816, 2018.

[4] Barnes LA, Eng A, Corbin M, Denison HJ, t’Mannetje A, Haslett S, et al., A longitudinal linkage study of occupation and ischaemic heart disease in the general and Maori populations of New Zealand, 2022. 

Last updated: 05 April 2023