Have you been involved in a work-related injury or illness; you may be wondering what your rights and responsibilities are in the matter?
You must be aware of such things as, if you are not, you may rather have your rights violated or end up in legal strife!
This article will outline the occurrence of a work-related injury and summarise the basics of the matter.
What is a work-related injury?
For an injury to be considered “work-related”, your employment must have been a “significantly contributing” factor to it, regardless of the form of your injury.
The injury may be physical, psychiatric, or an illness or disease and comes in varying levels of seriousness including critical and non-critical injuries.
You may also qualify for a claim if a work-related fatality occurs.
Physical injuries are defined in law as the damage to bodily tissue by an external force that requires said tissue to undergo a healing process in order to be considered medically fit or healthy. A physical injury may include:
- A cut
- A burn
- A strained/pulled muscle
- A broken/fractured bone
A psychiatric injury or disorder is defined as a behavioural or psychological illness that causes an individual significant stress or mental impairment diagnosed by a medical professional.
They will generally lead to an individual exhibiting abnormal behaviours, thoughts, or unfit emotions for the situations they may find themselves in.
An injury of the sort may include:
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
Illness or Disease
An illness or disease is a period of time, typically brought on by external factors, that cause abnormal function of the body or mind that is diagnosed by a medical professional.
An individual with an illness or disease will generally experience symptoms, manifestations of the illness that will usually be unpleasant for those experiencing it, such as a headache or sore throat.
An illness may include:
- Respiratory diseases, such as asbestosis
- Common Cold
A critical injury is defined generally as an injury that will send the recipient to the hospital immediately.
They will likely have ongoing effects on an individual and may need extensive surgery or treatment. Critical injuries may include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Full thickness burns on upwards of 30% of the body
- Loss of limb
- An incident in which various bones are broken
If you have experienced a critical injury in the workplace, you may be liable for WorkCover’s “Critical care team” which works to assist victims in returning to an independent form of life.
What should I do if a work-related injury occurs?
If an injury has occurred in the workplace, especially in the case of an emergency, you have responsibilities that must be undertaken, regardless of whether you are an employee or employer.
I am an employee
If you are an employee and were injured in the workplace, there are a range of rights you have and steps you should take in order to make a claim.
Seek medical help
The first thing you should do if you have experienced a work-related injury or illness is to seek medical attention.
The doctor responsible for your treatment will give you a work capacity certificate, a document that explains the injury that occurred and your ability, or lack thereof, to continue to work at the establishment.
This certificate is absolutely necessary if you wish to make a claim, so it is important that you actively seek one if your treating doctor does not give you one of their own accords.
Inform your employer
You must let your employer know about the injury or illness that has been caused by their workplace at the first opportunity presented.
You should also give them a copy of the aforementioned work capacity certificate.
Make a claim
You may then initiate your claim with WorkCover Queensland as soon as you feel physically ready to do so.
You can make your claim rather over the phone or submit the claim online.
The Worker’s Checklist is a tool provided by the site and assists you in gathering the information required of you before beginning to make your claim.
As established by the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, the claim will then be decided based on a number of factors:
- Has the claim been made within the appropriate time frame?
- Did an incident in the workplace cause the mentioned injury?
- Is the individual claiming an employee?
- Was the individual claiming to work for the employer at the time of the injury?
I am an employer
As an employer, you have specific responsibilities if an injury occurs within your workplace, as stated in work health and safety laws.
You are responsible for keeping your employee and the general workplace safe and reporting any known occurrences to the appropriate authority.
You are further responsible for ensuring your employees in the case of work-related injury or illness.
If an injury or illness occurs in your workplace, there are specific actions you are required to take.
Recording work-related incidents
As an employer, you are legally responsible for the recording of any work-related injuries or illnesses that occur within your establishment.
You are legally required to keep a record of any incident for a minimum of 5 years, something you can easily do using the incident notification form.
You are further required to have an established system of recording said incidents.
Having a comprehensive recording process allows employees to feel safe in the workplace and confident in reporting issues or injuries when they occur.
Who do I notify about work-related Injury?
A serious injury, illness, or death must be reported to the appropriate body, either the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland or the Electrical Safety Office.
Only the injuries mentioned above are required to be reported, meaning minor injuries or illnesses may go unreported.
You can report an incident via phone call, online, email, or fax.
As mentioned above, if the injury is non-critical (as defined by Worksafe Qld) notification of either the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland or the Electrical Safety Office is unnecessary.
However, you are required to notify either WorkCover or any personal insurance you may have.
work-related Injury – Key Takeaways
A work-related injury is a serious occurrence, so it is important you are well educated on it regardless of employment status or rank (employer or employee).
If an injury or illness occurs in your workplace you must follow the appropriate steps and precautions to ensure you are legally covered and further injury does not occur in the future.
If you are injured or made ill in the workplace, it is important you follow the proper procedure to receive compensation that works for you.
If you are involved in a workplace incident, don’t be afraid to seek legal assistance in the matter, as a professional can be the best person to inform you of your rights and responsibilities!