The Supreme Court of Norway recently sentenced the state to pay occupational disease compensation to a former dental assistant, Mrs Seristad, who had been exposed to mercury for several years. Due to this ruling, the calculation of her disability pension and subsequently her retirement pension will be more favourable. Mrs Seristad had brought a claim for recognition as an occupational disease in 2005 after seeing a TV documentary describing the links between certain diseases and exposure to mercury. Although traces of mercury were detected in her blood, the Social Security organization had rejected her claim.
Following this legal action, hundreds of dental assistants have filed suits against the state, which will probably have to pay compensation to all these victims. The amount will vary from one person to another based on time on the job, the employer’s insurance policy and trade union membership. Trade union authorities applauded the Supreme Court ruling, which, according to them, represents a breakthrough for sectors of activity with a high proportion of female workers. Moreover, thanks to this ruling, it is now established, in Norway, that mercury is dangerous for health and that it has caused numerous occupational diseases.
In Norway, compulsory occupational injury insurance (yrkesskadeforsikring) is managed by private insurance companies, which pay personalized compensation and/or fixed compensation to cover lost earnings and expenses not reimbursed by the national insurance scheme.