compensation for work-related injury (or disease)

Workers compensation is a compulsory insurance cover taken out by all employers (except self-insured workers). If employees are injured at work or become sick due to their work, workers’ compensation payments cover their wages while they are not fit to work, and any associated medical expenses and rehabilitation costs.

It is an employer’s responsibility to take all reasonable care for their employees’ safety, with model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws enforced by WHS regulators in each state and territory. If these laws have been breached by the employer due to negligence, employees are entitled to claim compensation.

When it comes to assessing claims, they are assessed on whether the employer or employee failed to do something to reduce or remove the risk; or if the employer or employee did something they should not have done. This can be a complex area, so it is worth contacting your local compensation authority. Safe Work Australia’s website provides details of the relevant compensation authority in each state or territory.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent data, just under 532,000 workers experienced at least one work-related injury or illness in 2013/14, with 61% receiving some sort of financial assistance. Workers in the 50–54 year age group had the highest number of work-related injuries, followed by the 15–19 year age group. 

It is also worth noting that mental stress claims are the most expensive form of worker’s compensation claims because of the often lengthy periods of absence from work.  

Safe Work Australia supports a number of worker’s compensation projects and initiatives to achieve better health and return to work outcomes. The return to work/rehabilitation provisions in legislation provides for the safe and sustainable return to work of an injured worker as early as possible, allowing for their injury.

There are four factors to a successful return to work:

  • early intervention
  • an effective workplace-based rehabilitation program
  • effective claims management and cooperation
  • collaboration and consultation between stakeholders

In 2016, a National Return to Work Survey was carried out, reporting that 87% of Australian injured workers had returned to work at some time since their injury or illness.

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