NSW WORKPLACE INJURY AND WORKERS COMPENSATION
Workplace injuries are very common and can cause significant morbidity for employees and have considerable economic impact. The injured workers are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits while they are recovering from the injury. Even though the injury claim compensation process is supposed to be a clear-cut procedure, there are explicit guidelines that are determine whether an injury incurred by a worker meets the criteria for compensation, therefore some actions must be followed to file a proper compensation claim. The NSW Workplace Injury and Workers Compensation Act 1998 provides sufficient resources that helps one to understand the basics concepts of injury management and possibly the workers’ compensation acts and helps the injured employees to commence on the claim process.
The two main parts of the NSW Workplace injury and workers compensation Act 1986 that was breached by Mr. Jones Company include;
- Injury management program/plan Act.
From the case study, Mr. Jones lawyers indicated that the company that employed Mr. Jones was in breach of the NSW workplace and workers compensation in the following ways. To start with, part two, section 44 which talk of the prompt notification of the workplace injury. This article states that whenever a worker is injured, they should notify their employer stating their injuries as soon as possible. Section 42 part (2) which states that the employer of the worker who is injured should notify their authority or the insurer within a given period that is 48 hours (1). Mr. Jones informed his employer after he got the injuries in the field. The company on the other side did not inform the authorities about the injuries Mr. Jones incurred in the field.
Section 45 part 1, 2, 3 of the NSW workplace injury and compensation plan states that whenever the workplace injury is a major injury the authorities or the insurer must establish or develop a management plan for the injury for the worker who gets injuries in the workplace (1). The injury Mr. Jones sustained was a significant injury even though the mining company believed that the injuries Mr. Jones had were minor and therefore they denied him the liabilities. Section 45 part 4 talks about the insurer providing the injured worker and the employer with appropriate information with regards to the injury management plan (2). From our case study, the insurer did not comply with this and instead 25 days had passed after the agreement to compensate Mr. Jones.
- Weekly compensation Act.
Workers’ claim of compensation is a form of insurance offered by the insurer that is meant to provide injured employees with a quick and efficient means of receiving money for the workplace-related injuries(1,3). Workers compensation is more often than not irrelevant whether the employer or the employee was at liability for causing the condition. In case the employee sustained injuries while working, then they can file a claim for their compensation benefits. An injured employee and together with the family may face sudden suffering and hardship as a result of the sudden loss of income (2). Therefore, workers’ compensation benefits are meant to give the injured worker a way of paying bills including medical costs at the period of recovery. From the case study the mining company after informing the insurer it takes long before Mr. Jones is compensated that is 25 days have passed after the official notice was given. According to chapter 4 division 4, section 93 says that weekly compensation should be made to the injured worker (1,4). This act of payment is breached since it says that weekly payments to the worker or employee are to commence as soon as possible and not later than 21 days after the claim is made. It has taken 25 days since Mr. Jones made the compensation claim and so far he has not received any direction from the insurer (1).
Injury management is a systematic process which involves returning injured workers to work (5). This process is integrated such that it identifies, treats the injured and ensures the injured worker or employee recovers from injury by including the emergency procedures and injury rehabilitation. Injury management is dynamic and requires active co-operation and collaboration between the employee and the employer (5,6). This process includes activities that directly affect the injured employee’s recovery, and it encompasses appropriate medical treatment, rehabilitation, eventually returns to work.
The initial step in injury management involves reporting the sustained injuries to the authorities as soon as possible (6). NSW Workplace injury and workers compensation act 1998 states that the injured employee must notify their employer about the received injury as soon as possible immediately after the injuries after which the company will notify the workers insurer within 48 hours, and then the insurer notifies the authorities of the worker according to the regulations (5).The next step as per the act is developing injury management plan (1,5). This program is established after consulting the employer the worker and the doctor to the extent that all these parties agree and their participation allows. The inception of the injury management plan is the treatment strategy .the responsibility of treating an injured worker befalls on the medical practitioner or the treating doctor. This strategy aims at alleviating the pain and managing the injury or the condition (7). Diagnosing, treating, participation, exploring better treatment options are the basic steps of the treatment strategy. After treatment the next step is rehabilitation. Chapter 3 part 2 Section 52 states that the employer of the injured worker should establish a return to work (RTW) program with regards to the stated policies and protocols or procedures concerning rehabilitation and if possible re-training, re-education of the worker should be provided (1).
Disability management is an approach employed by a company to prevent and mitigate impairments that result from injuries, illness or even disease(8). Disability management is a proactive process that promotes disability prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation strategies as well as a safe return to work program that is designed to manage personal costs and economic cost of the injuries and disabilities incurred at the workplace. Disability management practices are mainly based on a cohesive, comprehensive and progressive employer-based approach to managing the needs of those with disabilities within the workplace and socio-economic environment. A well-developed disability management program can positively contribute to personnel productivity and employee engagement by making sure that any employee with health issues can return to work more as soon as possible after recovery. Components of a successful disability management program include; emphasis on health promotion and disability management (prevention), a strong commitment to a safe and prompt return to work plan of workers (support for recovery) and lastly the company’s structure that significantly considers the objectives of disability management (accommodation)(8,9).
Prevention as the first component of disability management plays a crucial role in promoting health and safety in the workplace; it also identifies and prevents injury and illnesses that arise from the risks in the workplace. Prevention also supports early intervention measures so that workers can remain at work at all times. Support for recovery enables or facilitates injured workers to stay at work. Accommodation is the modification of the workplace environment for the ill workers to successfully return to work(8,10).
STAKEHOLDERS IN MR JONES CASE
An injury management approach assists injured workers to resume work, and it involves real collaboration between the employers, the injured worker, work insurer, medical practitioner and rehabilitation providers to achieve a better result (2,7). Efficient work restoration entails proper assessment, early mobilization, and effective early treatment and as well as good communication between all the stakeholders involved. The doctor plays an important role in facilitating the return to work process. Timely resumption to work mainly depends on many factors such as the workplace culture, workplace practice together with proper injury management plans (7). By doing this, the injured worker will feel more supported and valued in their workplace roles The roles of different stakeholders in Mr. Jones case to ensure he returns to work are;
The employer of Mr. Jones at the mining company must fully participate and wholly co-operate to ensure efficient development of the injury management plan that is critical for Mr. Jones. The employer must provide a suitable work for Mr. Jones who has been partially incapacitated due to injury if he wants to return to work and should, therefore, be able to compensate Mr. Jones for the injuries he sustained in the coal field (1). The employer should also establish a good and effective return to work program with regards to the stipulated policies and procedures for the rehabilitation of Mr. Jones. This program will ensure that he receives adequate vocational retraining and re-education.the employer should ensure that they provide weekly compensation to Mr. Jones as early as possible (1,7). The employer should comply with any request for additional information required concerning Mr. Jones by the responsible insurance company or workers’ compensation board (WCB) for example statements of the Mr. Jones earnings before and after he sustained injuries (5,6). The employer should also provide reports of the date of Mr. Jones is suppose to return to work as well as providing reports that may be necessary to determine his employment status after the injuries.
The insurance providers play a fundamental role in the injury management process by providing benefits, organizing for rehabilitation programs efficiently (1,6). The insurance provider should ensure efficient communication with Mr. Jones and to explore the return to work strategies by participating in the course of identifying or providing a lasting job accommodation options for Mr. Jones. The insurer is a stakeholder in Mr. Jones case and to ensure that he returns to work, the insurer should pay the cost of treatment incurred by Mr. Jones provided by the medical practitioner for the workplace injury (2,5). The insurer should also pay for other treatment like the surgeries Mr. Jones underwent .the insurer has the responsibility of managing the weekly compensation payments and determines the liability of the claims for compensating Mr. Jones. The insurer must begin payments of weekly benefits as soon as possible after being notified the injuries the worker sustained (1).
Mr. Jones who is the injured worker is encouraged to participate in the RTW (return to work process) to make sure that it is suitable safe and sustainable by reporting his injury as soon as possible, by contributing positively to the establishment of a return-to-work plan (1,7). Mr. Jones should also comply with recommended of treatment by his medical practitioner. He should have the responsibility for maintaining his personal health and as well as his mental well-being. Mr. Jones on his side he should participate actively in the establishment and application of a return to work plan. After treatment, he should be able to recognize the importance of the rehabilitation process since this will play a greater role in aiding his recovery so that he should be able to love his work in the mining field (6).
The doctor should be able to assist Mr. Jones to return to work by diagnosing the injuries he sustained and taking care of them; the doctor should also keep in touch with the key stakeholders that is the employer, insurer Mr. Jones (11). The medical doctor should be able to review the capabilities of the injured Mr. Jones focusing mainly on the jobs that he can do rather than the ones he cannot do. The doctor has the responsibilities of completing functional assessments that and indicate if Mr. Jones if fit to return to work. He should also suggest to the employer the tasks Mr. Jones should undertake so that he cannot strain on the existing injuries (11).
The return to work coordinator
He should facilitate and co-ordinate with Mr. Jones to ensure that he returns to his workplace by providing resources that will enable the injured Mr. Jones to do his duties appropriately (11,12). The coordinator should make sure that he /she assists in the rehabilitation, monitor the progress of Mr. Jones and most importantly developing and reviewing the return to work and injury management plan. The RTW coordinator should also assist in the identification of alternative jobs or duties for the injured worker (1,5).
Workplace rehabilitation provider
Workplace rehabilitation provider identifies and addresses any critical physical, social, psychological, organizational and environmental risk factors that can have a significant impact on Mr Jones ability to return to work successfully. The workplace rehabilitation provider achieves all these by delivering rehabilitation services at the workplace(1).
- New South Wales Government. NSW Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 No 86. 1998;2010(22nd August). Available from: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/wimawca1998540/
- Clayton A, Johnstone R, Sceats S. Working Paper 3 The Legal Concept of Work-Related Injury and Disease in Australian OHS and Workers ’ Compensation Systems Alan Clayton Research Associate , National Research Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Regulation , Regulatory Institutions Ne. 2002;(April):1–48.
- Society LNSW. FACT SHEET : WORKERS COMPENSATION In June 2012 the NSW government introduced sweeping changes to the workers compensation. 2012;2012(June).
- Tasmania W. Injury Management Making it Work. 2015;
- Xample ANONE. DISABILITY MANAGEMENT EXPERTS AND THE IMPACT OF JURISDICTION ON PRACTICE. 57:1–16.
- Wa W. Workers ’ Compensation & Injury Management : A Guide for Workers.
- The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, The Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Helping people return to work. Work Tasmania [Internet]. 2010; Available from: http://www.workcover.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/165432/Helping_people_return_to_work.pdf
- Shrey W, Donald E. Disability Management at the Workplace : Overview and Future Trends. 2011;(February).
- Brooker SA, Sinclair SJ, Clarke J, Pennick V, Hogg-Johnson S. Effective disability management and return to work practices: what can we learn from low back pain? A report to the Royal Commission on Workers’ Compensation in British Columbia. 1998;
- Patrick CEOS. Creating an Effective. 2006;(July 2000).
- Guzman J, Yassi A, Cooper JE, Khokhar J. Return to work after occupational injury. Family physicians’ perspectives on soft-tissue injuries. Can Fam Physician. 2002;48(DEC.):1912–9.
- Kl TH. Return To Work Program. 2011;(July 2006):1–7.