Despite safety measures and careful precautions, injuries at work are unfortunately common. In certain industries and among certain types of workers, injuries ranging from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries and more can lead to long-lasting medical complications and financial burdens.
If you or a loved one have been injured at work, you do have legal options. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file an injury at work claim or recover compensation for your work injuries. Read on for more information about workplace injuries, injury at work claims, how to recover compensation, and how and when to engage a work injury lawyer.
Workplace injuries are physical injuries, diseases, illnesses, or psychological disorders, that occur at the workplace or over the course of normal workplace duties.
For example, if you work at a construction site and are burned while on the job, that injury will qualify as a workplace injury. However, many workplace injuries occur outside the workplace while performing work duties. For instance, if you are injured traveling directly to or from work, those injuries will also qualify as workplace injuries.
Physical injuries range from broken bones to lacerations and more. However, it is possible to sustain psychological workplace injuries, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other psychological conditions.
Diseases, ranging from colds and flu to more serious viral attacks, may also be sustained in the workplace. These work-related injuries can lead to physical symptoms or other injuries with long-lasting complications.
In the worst-case scenarios, workers may be exposed to the risk of death. Even if a worker is killed while at work during a workplace accident, their family may be able to recover compensation if the death was avoidable and was the result of negligence or the fault of another party.
Workplace injuries are not equally distributed. According to official statistics: 87% of those who experience work-related injuries or illnesses are employees or workers.
As a result, workplace injuries are mostly concentrated among the working class. Additionally, workers in certain industries may be more likely to sustain work-related injuries. According to other statistics:
- Technicians and trade workers sustained work-related injuries or illnesses more frequently, followed by professionals, machinery operators and drivers, and labourers.
- Employees in the financial and insurance services, as well as the professional, scientific & technical services, and real estate services, were less likely to sustain work-related injuries.
Furthermore, men are more likely to suffer work-related fatalities than women. According to Safe Work Australia, there were 194 work fatalities in 2020 overall. 186 of those fatalities were male, while only eight were female.
Workplace injuries can take many forms, and some injuries are more common depending on workplace hazards and regular risks. Some of the most common physical workplace injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries at work, often called traumatic brain injuries or TBIs, such as concussions
- Lacerations or severe cuts
- Hand injuries in the workplace
- Blindness or other eye injuries in the workplace
- Musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace
- Back injuries at work or paralysis
- And more.
According to Safe Work Australia, the most common serious work injury claim throughout 2019 and 2020 were:
- Traumatic adjoint, ligament, or muscle and tendon injuries
- Musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases
- Lacerations, wounds, amputations, and internal organ damage
- Mental health conditions
- Other injuries such as burns, digestive system diseases, etc.
Workers’ compensation insurance is meant to protect you regardless of the nature of your injury. So long as you were injured at work and without breaking any workplace rules or being needlessly reckless, you can recover the financial compensation you need to pay for medical bills and to keep your finances stable while you recover.
How can you avoid accidents at the workplace?
Ensuring workplace safety has become critical for every organization in recent years. Workplace accidents affect employees not only physically but also emotionally, mentally, and financially, significantly impacting the organization’s overall productivity. That is to say, the most effective way to minimize the potential cost is to prevent workplace injuries from occurring. Therefore in this paragraph, we may discuss some of the best practices that can help organizations reduce workplace injuries and accidents.
One of the most critical aspects of controlling workplace accidents is incorporating a safety and wellness plan. The plan should include a detailed analysis of potential hazards and risks to help prevent accidents. Furthermore, keeping an orderly workplace is essential. Ensuring the workplace is free from clutter, spills, and other hazards can significantly minimize potential accidents. Additionally, organizations should look for patterns to identify any potential safety issues that may arise. Effective communication within the organization is also vital, enabling employees to report any unsafe practices or conditions.
In an accident, it is essential to investigate the cause and safety hazards and make necessary changes to avoid future accidents. This includes researching safety vulnerabilities, inspecting and maintaining all company vehicles to prevent repetitive injuries, and identifying the root cause of accidents. By doing so, organizations can implement better safety measures to reduce accidents in the future.
Providing safety measures such as personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical in ensuring employee safety. Organizations should ensure that employees have access to adequate PPE and use it correctly. Regular safety checks should also be conducted to immediately identify and address any safety hazards.
Improving staff training is essential in ensuring that employees are aware of safety protocols and that they follow them. The organization should also maintain adequate staffing levels, as understaffing can lead to increased accidents. Conducting pre-placement physicals is another way of ensuring that employees are fit for the job and can perform their duties safely. Organizations should also emphasize the importance of not taking inadequate approaches, which can lead to repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).
Regularly reviewing and promoting workplace safety while encouraging workers to report identified hazards in the workplace is critical. This includes identifying potential safety hazards and addressing them promptly. The organization should also be open to suggestions from employees, which can help improve safety measures.
Accidents can happen, no matter how careful one is at the workplace. However, by following these best practices, organizations can minimize the potential for accidents and create a safer work environment. Ensuring safety at the workplace not only improves the organization’s overall productivity but also ensures that employees feel valued and protected.
If an employee gets injured on the job, it’s important to know how to make a claim for compensation. By understanding the steps provided in the next paragraph that are involved in making a claim, employees can ensure they receive the support they need to recover and return to work.
How to make injuries at work claims
As a lawfully employed worker in Australia, you can legally file a claim for workers’ compensation if you experience a work-related injury or illness. Below are the steps to make a worker injury claim.
- Notify your employer: Inform your employer as soon as possible about your injury or illness. Provide details about how the injury occurred and when it happened.In Australia, it’s crucial to report any work-related injury within 48 hours of becoming aware of it. If you fail to do so within five days, you may be subject to a ‘claims excess payment’ equivalent to one week of the worker’s weekly payments. Reporting the injury promptly can help ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to and avoid additional financial burdens.
- Seek medical attention: Seek medical attention immediately or as soon as possible after the injury. If it is an emergency, go to the nearest hospital. If it is not an emergency, make an appointment with your doctor or a medical professional.
- Lodge a claim: Lodge a workers injury claim form with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer or the relevant state or territory authority. You can do this online or by filling out a paper form. Once the injured worker has submitted the required form, the employer must forward it to the relevant workers’ compensation insurer within 10 days. Within a further 28 days, the insurer must provide a written response to the injured worker, either accepting or rejecting their claim.
- Provide information: Provide information about your injury or illness, including medical certificates and any other relevant documents, to the insurer or authority.
- Attend medical appointments: Attend any medical appointments requested by the insurer or authority, and provide any additional information they require.
- Decision: The insurer or authority will make a decision about your claim and notify you in writing. If your claim is accepted, you may be eligible for compensation payments, rehabilitation services, and other benefits.
- Review: If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may be able to request a review or appeal the decision.
Whether you are insured by a third-party company or a State Government WorkCover Insurer, your accident at work claim will be analyzed and decided using factors like:
- Whether the claim was made in the right timeframe
- Whether you were working for your employer when you were injured
- Whether a work-related incident caused the injury in question – for example, whether a back injury at work claim is valid if you had a pre-existing back injury.
- And more.
No two WorkCover claims are decided exactly alike. The assistance of knowledgeable professionals can help your work-related injury claim succeed and provide you with the financial support you need to both pay for medical bills and cover other expenses.
Whether you want to file an industrial accident claim, an office accident claim, or some other injury at work claim, you must have sufficient evidence to support your need for coverage. Evidence can include video footage, eyewitness accounts, notes from your doctor detailing the nature of your injuries, and so on.
Workers’ compensation is an insurance payment intended to cover your wages when you are unfit for work (while you are recovering from the relevant injury) and associated medical expenses or rehabilitation costs. Australian employers in every state or territory must take out workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees.
Work injury compensation is available in a few different types.
Workplace injury compensation covers the cost of current, previous, and ongoing medical care for injuries sustained while in the workplace. For example, if you break a bone because you slipped and fell while serving customers at a restaurant, you could be entitled to workplace injury compensation.
Accident-at-work compensation may cover your injuries and rehabilitation costs if you suffer an accident while at the workplace. For instance, if you are hit by a driver while working at a construction site, workers’ compensation may cover your medical bills and provide you with insurance support while you recover from the injuries.
Psychological injury workers’ compensation provides medical support and financial coverage for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other psychological injuries or conditions you sustain because of your workplace environment and/or unreasonable management action. Proving that your psychological injuries were caused by your work can be difficult, highlighting the importance of engaging a professional in such cases.
While you can file a work injury claim alone, it is not the wisest course of action. Instead, you’ll be better off hiring a knowledgeable work injury lawyer to represent and support you through the process.
Experienced work injury lawyers:
- Know the legal system inside and out
- Can help you file the right paperwork to ensure your work injury claim goes through properly and on time
- Can ensure that you file your claim before the statute of limitations expires
- Can gather evidence on your behalf, such as medical reports, eyewitness accounts from the scene of the incident, and much more
- Can present compelling evidence in court or during out-of-court settlement negotiations
- Can provide sound legal counsel and offer advice to ensure you maximize your compensation
All in all, a work injury lawyer can make a major difference when it comes to securing as much compensation as possible for you and your loved ones.
Work Rights Australia (WRA) is not a law firm. We are the leading employee advocacy and support service. WRA provides a holistic and one-stop-shop approach for employment disputes, and we only represent employees.
You want to make sure you find someone with the expertise and confidence to handle your case. Ask yourself these questions:
- Has an independent assessment of your case been provided?
- Can your dispute be resolved without the stress and cost of going to court?
- Does your case involve litigation that requires a legal professional?
- Are you being referred to a lawyer specializing in workplace injury law?
- What are the costs? Do you know upfront? Are you getting value for money?
WRA has a team of advocacy, HR, and workplace relations consultants and a panel of legal professionals, including experienced work injury lawyers, to whom we can refer your case with confidence.
Why wait to get the help you deserve? Contact Work Rights Australia today!