Workplace Injuries – Who is entitled to claim compensation, and how can this be avoided?
Two words – ‘safety first’ are often considered when we put on a seat belt, strap our children into a car seat, or place training wheels on their first bicycle. However, in the hustle of the workplace this message is often undervalued or misplaced. Employers and employees both need to be reminded that safety should not be an afterthought or come second to that all important meeting or deadline you need to fulfil.
Recent statistics released by Safe Work Australia reveal that there were 104,770 serious worker’s compensation claims made by Australian works between 2015 and 2016. What does this mean for you, and how can you prevent becoming another statistic?
To avoid being on the negative end of a workplace injury compensation claim, it is important for employers to ensure correct and effective workplace safety procedures are in place to protect your workers, as this will also protect you in the long run. The first level of protection is to be aware of the legislative instruments which apply to your workplace and how they operate.
For most workplaces, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 provides the overarching framework to secure the safety and health of workplaces and their employees. Also of importance, is the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 which describes how to prevent or minimise a risk at your workplace.
It is crucial that as an employer, you are aware of changes to the legislation and update your systems accordingly. Recently, on 12 October 2017, the Queensland Parliament passed the Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (the Amendment Act). As a result the following provisions will commence on 1 July 2018:
- mandating training for Health and Safety Representatives within six months of being elected to the role, with refresher training to be undertaken at three-yearly intervals;
- introducing the ability for a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to appoint a Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO);
- requiring a PCBU to display a current list of WHSOs for the workplace;
- enabling the appointment of a WHSO or the election of a HSR to be permissible as evidence that a PCBU has taken action to mitigate health and safety risks; and
- clarifying inspector investigation powers under section 171 of the WHS Act to ensure these powers are not inappropriately limited by a legal technicality.
If you are unsure about the workplace health and safety requirements in your workplace, please contact our office today.
It is also important for you, as an employee, to be aware of the legislative provisions that apply to your workplace, as well as the safety procedures that are implemented by your employer.
If you have been injured at work or you believe your work may have contributed to an injury or disease, then you may be entitled to workers compensation. This includes, but is not limited to, compensation for lost wages, past and future medical expenses, damages for both physical and emotional pain and suffering, and damages for disfigurement or disability.
For most workplaces in Queensland, compensation is sought out through WorkCover. Alternatively, your workplace may be self-insured. Whichever the case, if you believe you may have a claim, our friendly team at Stephens & Tozer have the astute knowledge and demonstrated experience in the area of Personal Injuries in order to assist you.
Sidonie Jenner is an aspiring lawyer and placement student at Stephens & Tozer. She undertakes work across an extensive range of legal practice areas, with a keen interest in employment and industrial law. Should you have any questions or concerns in relation to work health and safety, please contact our team at Stephens & Tozer Solicitors.
30 May 2018