Around the States

Australian Capital Territory

Healthier Work Recognition Scheme

WorkSafe ACT is now accepting applications for the Healthier Work Recognition Scheme announced by ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe.

“Workplaces that are committed to creating a healthier environment for their staff deserve to be recognised. That’s why we developed the Healthier Work Recognition Scheme to acknowledge and reward organisations who demonstrate commitment to the workplace health and wellbeing journey, said Mr McCabe.

Additionally Mr McCabe said: “Workplaces that are applying, or have applied to participate in the Healthier Work Recognition Scheme may also be eligible for a rebate of $500 to put towards workplace health and wellbeing activities”

In order to be eligible for the Healthier Work Recognition Scheme and rebate the Healthier Work Team, the ACT Government’s free workplace health support service must have visited the applicant within six months prior to the date of applying.

Hazardman

WorkSafe ACT’s Hazardman project has officially launched a school competition for 2014.

“This competition is something we have been planning for a while and aims to involve students actively with the project to learn about safety. The idea of work health and safety, and risk assessment doesn’t only have to apply to students’ workplaces, but to their schools and homes as well. The techniques Hazardman teaches are really life skills,Ă“ said ACT Work Safety Commissioner, Mark McCabe.

The competition is open to all students in Years 8-12 in ACT schools and will run throughout Term 2. The winning students will win a prize for themselves as well as $7,500 for their school. The aim of the competition is to promote Workplace Health and Safety to potential young employees and educate them on the potential dangers in a workplace.

“The idea is to get students researching hazards and mitigation strategies themselves. We want to encourage them to think about the risks and possibilities, and what they can do to problem-solve when they encounter these in real life.

“Many students in this age bracket may already have a casual or part-time job, or will be starting one in the next few years. Older students may be transitioning from study to an apprenticeship or will be seeking other full-time employment come the end of the year,” said Mr McCabe.

Further information regarding the competition can be found at www.hazardman.act.gov.au

New South Wales

The NSW Government has commissioned an independent review of the 2012 amendments to the workers compensation system. In June 2012, changes were made to improve the level of assistance provided to many of the State’s most seriously injured workers and make the Workers Compensation Scheme more financially sustainable.

According to the Minister for Finance and Services, Dominic Perrottet, the Workers Compensation Scheme is now recording a surplus, and statutory requirements require a review of the amendments to be conducted.

The analysis is to determine whether the intentions of the amendments remain valid and if the terms of the Workers Compensation Acts remain appropriate for securing those objectives. To ensure the integrity of the review, it is being undertaken independently of WorkCover NSW by the Centre for International Economics, which has been commissioned by the Office of Finance and Services. Mr Perrottet said the review findings would be carefully considered before any future changes were made to the workers compensation system.

“In the two years since the amendments were put in place, the financial stability of the Workers Compensation Scheme has been turned around and it is now providing better support for our state’s most seriously injured workers,” he said.

He reported that the Workers compensation insurance premiums are now $1.1 billion lower for NSW employers than they would have been without the 2012 reforms; and that the Government is pleased with how the initiative is performing and will fully assess the benefits and impacts to workers before making any further changes to the system.

“The possibility of further premium reductions will be considered in line with the usual premium review processes. The Government will also consider the fact that investment returns can be volatile and the need for contingency funds in case investment returns decline in future, to avoid a repeat of the 2012 deficit. It is important that the system continues to meet the needs of the community and we are encouraging people to get involved and provide their feedback online. Once feedback has been collated by the Office of Finance and Services, it will be passed on to the Centre for International Economics to be incorporated as part of its review,” he said.

Queensland

The Scheme

All claims for work related injuries are regulated by the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 in Queensland. The scheme does allow for self-insurers and there are currently 32 self-insurers in Queensland with the majority of these being large employers. Insurance is compulsory and WorkCover Queensland is the default insurer for employers excluding those who are self-insured. In instances where an employer has not taken out insurance, their workers will still be entitled to compensation under the Act.

Broadly speaking there are two aspects to the scheme.

  1. There is a no fault entitlement to weekly benefits in lieu of wages, medical treatment, rehabilitation, other injury related expenses, lump sum compensation for permanent impairment and additional lump sum compensation for serious injuries. For fatal claims there is an entitlement to lump sum compensation for dependants, funeral costs and other related expenses.
  2. Secondly, the Act regulates common law claims for damages where an employer is at fault for causing the injury and can be shown to have either breached the contract of employment causing damage or been negligent.

Statutory Claims

Statutory claims must be initiated within six months of consulting a doctor about the injury. A claim can be lodged by phone, online, via a doctor or by completion and submission of an application form. There are exclusions for self-inflicted injuries or injuries caused by misconduct. Purely psychological injuries must not be caused by reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way in order to remain compensable under the Act.

Common Law Claims

Common law payments or damages are a monetary payment made to compensate for the losses sustained as a consequence of a work related injury.

An insurer is only required to make these payments if an injured worker can prove their employer has breached their duty of care to them to provide a safe, documented and supervised system of work. This is often referred to as negligence and or a breech of implied term in any contract of employment to provide a safe system of work.

Common law claims can be extremely costly. Key strategies for reducing risks for employers are proactive prevention, early intervention and best practice rehabilitation.

Details of actual common law outcomes can be found at http://www.workcoverqld.com.au/forms-and-resources/case-studies/common-law-claim-case-studies

Return to Work Conference & Safe Work Awards on 20th October 2014

Queensland Return to Work Conference, Expo and Safe Work Awards will be held again on the 20th October 2014 at the Brisbane Convention and
Exhibition Centre.

It will host world class speakers and workshops tailored to address the needs of those on the front line of rehabilitation and return to work.

It will include an expo along with an awards ceremony held in the afternoon, to celebrate injured workers who have proudly achieved their goals, case managers who truly care, and employers committed to positive return to work results.

For more information http://www.workcoverqld.com.au/events/2014/the-return-to-work-conference,-expo-and-awards

Old high risk work licences to have been converted by June 30

As of July 1, Queensland’s old style non-photographic certificates (Queensland Certificate of Competency) can no longer be used for high risk work.

Non-photographic certificate holders could convert their certificates at participating Australia Post Offices. From 1 July 2014, holders of a non-photographic certificate wanting to carry out high risk work will need to attend a registered training organisation to complete training and receive a photographic renewable high risk work licence.

High risk work licences are necessary to perform the following work:

  • cranes and hoist operation
  • forklift operation
  • rigging and dogging
  • scaffolding
  • pressure equipment operation.

For more information http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/index.htm

South Australia

The South Australian government continue to work towards legislative reforms, and the Bill to replace the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 is likely to be tabled in parliament this quarter. One of the most discussed areas of the reform is the potential inclusion of Common Law, as any form of Common Law will be an integral part of the Scheme entitlement structure. Further detail will be provided in our next update.
In the last year WorkCoverSA has placed renewed efforts in fraud investigation, ensuring that dishonest or fraudulent workers under the scheme are held to account. This year alone WorkCoverSA has prosecuted three workers for a range of misleading and fraudulent behaviours. Most recently, a worker was convicted on three counts of making a false or misleading statement to WorkCoverSA, and received a three month jail sentence and ordered to pay over $3000. A media release from the WorkCoverSA, dated 14 July 2014, announced the worker was caught following a tip-off that he was playing competitive basketball despite claiming benefits for ongoing incapacity for work. The General Manager for Scheme Improvement and Regulation, Michael Francis reported that currently there are “three more cases before the courts, 10 with Crown awaiting advice and numerous tip-offs we’re actively investigating”.

The new Return to Work services schedule was released earlier this year, and full implementation occurred as of the 1 July 2014. This included a renewed approach to pre-injury services, new employer services, restoration to the community, return to work assessment services, and the introduction of fit for work services and mediation services. The new model is designed to support the delivery of strong worker support and return to work outcomes more effectively and efficiently.

Victoria

The Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (the WIRC Act) became operational on 1 July 2014. The WIRC Act honours the Victorian Government’s election commitment to recast the Accident Compensation Act 1985 and the Accident Compensation (WorkCover Insurance) Act 1993 into a single Act that is simpler and easier to use. The WIRC Act can be found on the Parliament of Victoria website (The information can be found under the section: Victorian Statute Book> 2013> Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013).
The WIRC Act delivers on the Government’s commitment to reduce the regulatory burden associated with workers compensation legislation. It will make it easier for employers and workers to use the legislation and understand their rights, obligations and responsibilities.
The WIRC Act does not change the benefits available, nor does it change the way that premium is calculated. For more information, please see:

  • Information about the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013
  • A guide to the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013

WorkSafe Victoria will now be known as the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA). This name change reflects the fact that their work undertaken across Victoria is much broader than just safety, as such using the legal name – VWA – better reflects all areas of business.
As well as preventing workplace injuries and enforcing Victoria’s occupational health and safety laws VWA also:

  • provide reasonably priced workplace injury insurance for employers
  • help injured workers back into the workforce
  • manage the workers’ compensation scheme across Victoria

Northern Territory

On the 7 July NT WorkSafe announced the release of their 2012-13 actuarial review of the Northern Territory Workers Compensation Scheme. This review is conducted annually to monitor ongoing viability and performance of the Northern Territory Workers Compensation Scheme, and to assist in the monitoring of funding levels and premium rates. A full copy of the report can be accessed on the NT WorkSafe Website.

A Northern Territory Issues Paper has been developed to seek input and evidence regarding increased regulatory burden since implementation of the new Work Health and Safety laws in 2011. NT businesses and workers are encouraged to provide their feedback, as this feedback will assist NT WorkSafe in their preparation of the NT specific contribution to the national review.

Western Australia


In late June 2014 WorkCover WA announced they have reached stage two of their legislative review process, completing a final report that contains 171 recommendations for inclusion in the new statute. A consultative approach in finalising its recommendations has occurred, including review of 66 submissions from stakeholders, and ongoing consultation with many of the representative groups and individuals engaged in improving the workers compensation legislation. A one month consultation period is being held during July with stakeholders, and submission closed in late July. A copy of the final report and information on the process can be accessed through the WorkCover WA website, under the Legislative Amendment and Review page.

Tasmania

The “Good Health. Good Business.” national conference was held in Hobart on 21-22 August 2014.

The conference brought together international, national and Tasmanian speakers to discuss the latest ideas on workplace health, safety and wellbeing. It provided tools and resources to put ideas into action.

Conference Program

Day 1 – Leadership and culture
Leading healthier, safer and high-performing workplaces: Hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services and WorkSafe Tasmania

Day 2 – Research
Evidence for promoting healthy lifestyles to workers: Hosted by the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania.

Matt May, Head of Product for Konekt and Dr Peter Cotton presented the findings from the Konekt Market Report during the leadership and culture stream.