What to do if you are injured at work as a worker

You may be eligible to lodge a claim with WorkCover QLD if you have sustained an injury at work.

WorkCover

WorkCover is a compulsory insurance that all businesses must take out as part of being an employer. This is to ensure there is financial compensation and support via benefits due to a work-related injury or illness.

One of the first things advised is for you to seek medical attention. It is also important that you detail to the doctor the circumstances of the event which lead to your injury. You should also seek treatment and as well as rehabilitation as necessary for what you had sustained.

It is also important that you report your injury to your employer. You should do this within 30 days of being aware of your injury.

It is possible to have your medical expenses covered for by WorkCover. The vital thing is to lodge a claim to WorkCover.

“Work-related injury”

A Work-related injury is an injury that arises from work, or during the course of employment.

There are different types of injuries, of which include:

  • a psychological/psychiatric injury
  • death from injury or disease

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2019) confirms that the most common types of injuries that are sustained include a sprain/strain (28%), followed by chronic joint or muscle condition (18%), and cut/open wound (16%).

Lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending were found to be the most common way for people to experience their work-injury, not to mention hitting or being hit/cur by an object or vehicle, as well as falling.

Emotional stress and psychological injury has recently become acknowledged to fall under this category.

Psychological/ Psychiatric Injury

In Queensland, Worker’s Compensation legislation is to support workers who have been injured at work to help get them back on their feet. WorkCover QLD is designed to assist workers particularly in relation to rehabilitation needs as a result of an injury. In relation to psychiatric work injuries, there are some different considerations.

There is an exception to the general rule in that if a psychiatric/psychological injury is as a result of a ‘reasonable management action’, then the psychological injury will generally not be accepted as a Worker’s compensation claim.

Unfortunately the reality in Queensland is that often insurers and employers take advantage of this exclusion.

The effect of this is that it often leaves people who suffer such injuries without proper recourse in circumstances where they should be allowed treatment.

A work injury can arise in a number of different scenarios. It could be due to the workplace setup or conduct by a supervisor or coworker.

It is somewhat difficult to sometimes isolate how a workplace injury should not be seen as the subject of a worker’s compensation claim.

Case Review

In a recent decision given by the Industrial Relations Commission in McPherson v Worker’s Compensation Regulator [2018] QIRC, the commission has acted to limit the exception created under the WorkCover QLD legislation in relation to psychological/psychiatric injuries which are the subject of a Workcover claim.

Within that case, we commission heard evidence of a worker’s treatment by a supervisor, which in the circumstances, seem to be inappropriate.

The commission considered, in that case, what the meaning of ‘reasonable management action’ meant within a workplace environment. The court held that the term should be broad rather narrowly. In this case, the commission agreed with the position of Mr McPherson in that the act by the employer was not seen to be an act fitting within the meaning of ‘reasonable management’. As a result of this, the work injury suffered by Mr McPherson which was of a psychiatric nature, was therefore allowed and an order was made that it should correctly be a subject of a WorkCover QLD claim.

It is important to therefore ensure that in circumstances where a work injury is sustained, then the worker’s right must be protected. Employers and insurers often reject claims for work injuries which arise as a result of a psychological/psychiatric nature due to the specific provisions in the act concerning reasonable management.

 

Furthermore, while ‘personal injury’ is most commonly known to be of physical injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident or work-related accident, not many know that you can also claim for psychological and psychiatric injuries. One of the most common factors to psychological and psychiatric trauma may include the emotional distress caused by bullying or having witnessed a violent act or injury. Other precipitators may be a frequent traumatic event in which poses a threat to one’s life or the life of a loved one, as well as over-whelming stress caused that affects one’s ability to cope with everyday activities.

Should you, unfortunately, be subject to a traumatic event, you should seek support as soon as possible and document what you had happened, and what affected you specifically. Seek medical attention if need be as traumatic events can often lead to negative long-term effects – some of which include flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia, severe depression and many other symptoms. Most often it could also affect your relationships and general cognisance, therefore it is imperative to seek medical attention and legal advice for treatment.

Death From Injury

It is the unfortunate reality that on occasions, people have passed as a result of actions or activities undertaken at work, or as a result of a motor-vehicle accident.

In these circumstances, family members/relatives of the loved one can, in certain circumstances, bring a claim as a result of their death. If the death is due to the negligence of an employer/some other third party, or a driver of a motor vehicle, then claims can be bought by people who are dependent upon that person or suffer psychological issues as a result of the death.

Broadly speaking, claims that arise out of death fall into two categories, namely:

  • Dependency Claims
  • Nervous shock

Dependency Claim

These claims are bought by family members. This includes their spouse, de-facto, children, or other people who are dependent upon the person for support and well-being. There are a number of different aspects to a dependency claim, and it is important that proper advice is sought from an expert in the area.

Nervous Shock Claims


These claims can be bought by any relative, de facto, or other person who suffers a recognizable psychiatric/psychological injury as a result of the death. These people need not to have witnessed the event nor do they necessarily need to have seen the body.

Unfortunately, it is a reality that in some cases people can fall into both categories i.e., being dependent, and also suffering from nervous shock. In those circumstances, the person may well bring both claims.

There are a number of specific rules and laws which apply to both of these claims and they are, to an extent, quite different from the standard WorkCover/Motor-Vehicle/Public Liability claim.

Therefore it is strongly recommended that anyone who may look at bringing one of these claims should seek appropriate advice from a lawyer who specialises in this area.

At Seymour Furlong Lawyers, we can assist you with these claims. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to make an inquiry or have any questions. We are happy to provide you, an initial free assessment in relation to any potential claim.

Employment

It is not uncommon for injured workers to fear putting in a WorkCover claim as they fear may affect their employment.

Fortunately, there is legislation in place to prevent unfair dismissal and discrimination. Specifically for Queensland, you cannot be ‘let go’ within 12 months of being injured – or because you are deemed unfit for your place of employment. In fact, they are responsible in taking proper steps to provide suitable duties at work for you, as well as rehabilitation for until you have recovered.

In previous posts, we covered:

Should you have any specific enquiries or would like to have a no obligation, free consultation with one of our friendly staff, please contact us through (07) 3879 1644, and we will endeavour to help you!