NSW WORKPLACE INJURY AND WORKERS COMPENSATION
BREACH OF NSW WORKPLACE INJURY AND WORKERS COMPENSATION.
Injuries and illnesses from jobs remain a grave matter. Apart from the physical effects, there are similarly financial concerns. The injured employees on the job are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits while they are recovering from the injury (1). Even though the injury claim process is supposed to be a clear-cut procedure, there are explicit guidelines that are determining whether an injury incurred by a worker meets the criteria for compensation, and some actions must be followed to file a proper compensation claim. The section NSW Workplace Injury and Workers Compensation Act 1998 provides sufficient resources that help 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(1).
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 was in breach. This article states that whenever a worker is injured, they should notify their employer stating their injuries as soon as possible. Mr. Jones informed the employer, but the employer breached 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 (2). The company of Mr. Jones did not inform the authorities about the injury Mr. Jones incurred in the field.
Before Mr. Jones took a legal Action, Section 45 part 1, 2, 3 of the NSW workplace injury and compensation plan was in breach (2). The injury Mr. Jones sustained was a significant injury and in this section, 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 (2). In our case study, 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 (3). From our case study, the insurer did not comply with this and instead 25 days had passed after the agreement to compensate Mr. Jones.
Section 48 talking of the return to work obligation of the injured worker was in breach. After being taken to the hospital and given painkillers, Mr. Jones complied with the company’s request to return to work to continue with his next shift. This section says that the worker should wait for the workplace rehabilitation service to commence before returning to work since it falls under injury management plan (2). Before taking legal action, Mr. Jones employer breached part two section49; which states that the company holds to be liable to compensate the injured worker and section 49 which talks of payment of the treatment (2).
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(2,4). 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 (3). 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 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 (1,2). 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 (2).
INJURY MANAGEMENT AND ITS INCEPTION
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 (2,5). 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 insurer will then give both the injured employee and the employer a statement that states whether the worker is entitled to weekly payments (2). 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. This phase of case management reflects the significance of work and encourages the employee to get back to work (3,7). It also focuses on optimizing and restoring the function of various parts of the worker’s body that are injured. Treatment options can be elective surgery, radiology, medication diet of even change of lifestyle (8). At some points, the medical practitioner may seek assistance from other health care providers.
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 (2). Section 53 of the Act states that the authority provides coordinates to the injured employee the vocational, retraining and rehabilitation schemes (2). Rehabilitation is like a mode of treatment which aims at improving and restoring the employee’s mental and physical capabilities that may have been affected as a result of the condition or injury. Under this strategy, health professionals such as physiotherapist may be involved. A rehabilitation provider assists the injured worker to return to work by giving expert advice (2,3,5). The provider will identify critical psychological, physical, social, organizational risk factors and the environment that impacts the employee ability to return to get back to work successfully. Return to work is the last step in injury management plan
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 (3,7). 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 (2). 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 (2,7). 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 (2,6). 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 (3,5). 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 (2).
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 (2,7). 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 (9). 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 (9).
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 (9,10). 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 (2,5).
Mr. Jones case requires a conciliator as a stakeholder to ensure the commencement of the weekly payment and also the continuation of the payments. The conciliator is to give directions to the employer to pay weekly compensations for between 10 – 12 weeks (2).
- Tasmania W. Injury Management Making it Work. 2015;
- 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).
- 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
- Workcover WA. Injury Management. 2015;(January):1–12.
- 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.