Tag Archives: workers compensation

WorkCover WA releases new Certificates of Capacity

Following a review by WorkCover WA, the workers’ compensation medical certificates have been revised and come into effect on 1 July 2014. They will now be known as Certificates of Capacity and replace the existing First, Progress and Final medical certificates currently used in WA.

WorkCover WA’s bulletin advises their intent is:

The certificates of capacity support the principle that work helps recovery. In general, work is beneficial to health and important for recovery. The certificates of capacity:

 

  • Assist GPs to focus on what the worker can do to remain in or return to work as soon as possible
  • Optimise the communication of information essential to support the worker’s recovery
  • Help GPs to articulate the worker’s progress and ongoing needs, assisting insurers to make informed decisions about the worker’s claim for workers’ compensation

Our view is no matter the format of the Certificates, the key elements remain:

  • Clear diagnosis
  • Best and timely treatment
  • Detailed capacity for work
  • Understanding by the doctor the availability of alternative or restricted duties if the injured employee has reduced capacity for work

 

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AurendaWCD Alliance

With effect from today, 20 May 2013, Aurenda has formed a National Alliance with WCD Workers’ Compensation. The AurendaWCD Alliance creates a truly independent national provider of expert workers’ compensation and injury management solutions.

This National Alliance enables Aurenda and WCD  to deliver a comprehensive service platform nationally, where required, yet maintain our independent service offerings. The combined resources of the Alliance will build upon the existing expertise within each business to service any employer with workers’ compensation needs, no matter where they are located or operate.  As Employer Advocates, our collective focus is  to work with our clients to manage workplace injuries and illness (whether or not they lead to an actual claim); ensure robust injury management and workers’ compensation policies and procedures are in place; and  track and manage costs.

About Aurenda:

Founded in 2002, Aurenda specialises in reducing the financial and human cost of injury in the workplace. We partner with organisations to deliver injury prevention, injury management and training services that ultimately reduce workers’ compensation costs plus the ‘hidden’ costs of workplace injury such as lost time, overtime, sick leave and the poor morale that can flow from poor management of workplace injuries. Our team of professionals is experienced in risk management, paramedical and allied health, workers’ compensation, safety and training.  Working in close partnership with some of Australia’s foremost public and private sector organisations, Aurenda empowers clients to minimise the human and financial costs associated with workplace injury.

About WCD Workers’ Compensation Solutions:

Founded in 1999, WCD Workers’ Compensation Solutions is a management consultancy company that specialises in workers’ compensation.  WCD’s staff has extensive experience across numerous aspects of workers’ compensation, bringing to our clients a complete solution to their workers’ compensation requirements. WCD has a large range of clients from diverse industries, providing premium, claims, and injury management advice to insured and self-insured businesses. Using our broad expertise and combined years of experience we ensure you achieve sustainable financial and social outcomes through our range of practical, cost efficient, and innovative support services.

We’re very excited about this new aspect of our service capabilities, which extends our capacity to deliver excellent workplace injury risk management solutions that achieve sustainable results.

For more information, I direct you to the following website, where you can also view a YouTube video that provides more insight into the AurendaWCD Alliancewww.AurendaWCD.com.au

Of course, you can also visit our respective websites to see more about our services and results:

www.aurenda.com

www.wcdcomp.com.au

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FAQ: Working from home, workplace safety and workers’ compensation.

Question:

An employee has asked to work from home. It is possible from a productivity point of view. What happens in relation to Workers’ Compensation?

Answer:

Having home-based employees is becoming more common due to the changes in flexible hours, technology and productivity. However, having your staff working from home does raise issues that you cannot ignore when it comes to Work Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation.

“When you allow an employee to work from home, you surrender control of their environment and working habits, so it’s essential to take the time to prepare in order to avoid landing in hot water. Fear of legal action shouldn’t deter you from encouraging flexible work practices, but it does mean that you should take measures to protect yourself should a crisis strike.” http://www.businessroom.com/en/Article/Categories/Managing/Workers-compensation-for-employees-that-work-from-home

If you decide to go down the path of allowing employees to work from home on a regular basis, be proactive in your approach:

  1. Maintain regular workplace health and safety training and include home-based work safety examples.
  2. Discuss the protocols for home workplace safety upfront. Make sure your staff members understand their responsibilities.
  3. As the employer, you have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace wherever your employees are based – and this includes their home. Conduct a workplace audit of their home working environment.
  4. Employee workplace safety responsibilities still exist at home so they must identify unsafe situations and report hazards, incidents and injuries. Provide them with specific training in conducting worksite risk assessments and place expectations on them to provide your safety personnel with the outcomes of these assessments.

Ultimately, if your home-based employee does suffer an injury in their workplace (their home!), they may well be covered by workers’ compensation.  However, there are parameters that need to be met for an injury to be considered under workers’ compensation, ie did work contribute to a significant degree to the injury?  Your workers’ compensation process should be initiated to enable a proper and fair assessment of the situation to be undertaken prior to a decision on liability.

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WOP/WOL Payment of Wages while a Claim is Pended

In the Western Australian workers’ compensation system, it is generally accepted that entitlements such as medical investigations and treatment, and even vocational rehabilitation, can be funded on a Without Prejudice/ Without Admission of Liability (WOP/WOL) basis while liability on a claim is being determined.

A recent situation experienced by one of our clients has caused us to consider WOP/WOL issues in greater depth.

An insurer advised an employer – a client of both Aurenda and the insurer – to pay wages to an injured worker on a WOP/WOL basis even though the claim was pended and the worker was not at work.

When queried on this advice, the insurer stated that they sometimes advise employers to pay wages when in all probability the claim will be accepted. The insurer believes that paying wages will negate the need for the employee to lodge an application at Conciliation and Arbitration Services (CAS), where an order to pay wages may be granted anyway. The insurer also feels that by paying wages in these circumstances, the employee may be deterred from seeking legal advice.

In our experienced opinion, under NO circumstances should wages be paid – even on a WOP/WOL basis – until the claim has been accepted.

Our reasons for this are as follows:

  • If you’re going to pay wages – why pend the claim?
  • If you think in all probability the claim will be accepted – why not just accept the claim, why bother with the investigations?
  • Paying the wages gives no incentive for the employee to make any attempt to return to work – especially in circumstances when the workers’ compensation rate of pay is greater than their base rate of pay.
  • There is no evidence that the employee will not seek legal advice while the claim remains pended.
  • If an application is made at WorkCover for wages to be paid (when the claim is pended) an order is not always granted in favour of the employee.
  • Once wages payments have commenced, it is difficult to stop them – this would no doubt require a visit to CAS at WorkCover in any case. This could also be an incentive for workers to drag out the resolution process.
  • A worker could justifiably assume their employer has accepted liability for their injury if wages are paid prior to investigations taking place.
  • It doesn’t set a great precedent for other workers if everyone who lodges a claim is paid, regardless of whether their claim is accepted.
  • If the claim is accepted, the employer will be obliged to back-pay wages. If the claim is declined, however, and the employer has paid wages on a WOP/WOL basis, it is not possible to recoup these wages from the worker.

We believe that all workers who suffer a legitimate workplace injury are entitled to fair compensation for their injury. Sometimes, however, claims are pended because more information is required to assess the injury and determine liability – and sometimes injuries are not compensable. A very small percentage of workers fall into this situation. The fact that the employer has identified significant cause for concern, in our opinion, means that they should not bear the additional onus of paying wages when there is no legal obligation to do so. The best interests of all parties are served by everyone, including the worker, focusing on a fast determination of liability. A focus on a solution is always Aurenda’s preference.

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May 6, 2012 · 6:55 am

Workers’ Compensation systems around Australia

Australia has 10 different Workers’ Compensation systems, each with its own method of calculating funding requirements to meet anticipated compensation entitlements for injured workers under each unique model. Judging by recent coverage in the media, not all states have got this right.
Here is the state of affairs at the moment
New South Wales
NSW WorkCover deficit will be $4.1 billion – a $1.7 billion slide in six months. Premier O’Farrell will be slashed workers’ compensation rights and payouts to rein in a $4 billion WorkCover deficit and encourage employers to employ more staff.
An article in the Daily Telegraph says “Workers compensation premiums in NSW are double those in Victoria – and the government says employers will end up facing premiums four to five times higher if the scheme is not reformed. A NSW cleaning company paying $150,000 in annual wages currently forks out $10,681 as a base premium. Similar firms in Melbourne and Brisbane would pay $3709 and $4901 respectively.”

From the daily telegraph

South Australia
A $222 million blowout in the unfunded liability of the South Australian scheme has created more headaches for the government and businesses struggling to pay growing premiums. The latest actual figures to December 31 show the unfunded liability has grown from $952m to $1.174bn in just six months. The unfunded liability was $55m in June 2001.
Victoria
Victorian Premier Mr Baillieu plans to use funds ($471.5 million over the next four years) from Victoria Workcover Authority (which is in the black) to plug holes in the Victorian budget. He plans to take the funds from the Victorian WorkCover Authority over the next four years.
Western Australia
In Western Australia the system of workers’ compensation payments is completely different. WA’s workers compensation is run privately and insurers are responsible for the WC liabilities. Other than their own government agencies, the WA government does not have any payment responsibility.

At Aurenda we work with companies to in all these states to reduce their workers’ compensation costs.

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Can I sack an injured worker in receipt of workers’ compensation payments?

Yes, but depending on their capacity it could be a very expensive.

It is illegal under the Act to terminate a worker with an open workers’ compensation claim purely because they have a claim and may be unable to perform their normal duties. You are required to hold that position open for twelve months.

However, you can sack an injured worker under the same conditions that you would for a worker that wasn’t on workers compensation. If there are circumstances such as gross and wilful misconduct, a worker can be terminated following specific guidelines.

You have to notify WorkCover with 30 days notice of your intent.

The additional expense may be incurred because if you sack a worker that is not fully fit for full pre injury duties you must continue to pay their wages until they prove a capacity to earn the same income in an alternative job, or the insurer closes the claim by other means

The problem in this situation is that you have no control of the worker and therefore limited ability to prove they have a capacity, you are dependent on third parties . They are entitled to $190,000 in wages under the current entitlements which can be used as partial payments for the months / years it takes to prove a pre-injury capacity.

www.aurenda.com

 

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Fall Protection in the Workplace

The recent death of a man in South Perth who fell from a cherry picker highlights the need for fall protection in the work place.

Aurenda believes fall protection is a simple and effective measure that is vital on every single construction work site in this country. Occupational health and safety in this industry is not a suggestion or something that can be ignored or forgotten because the risks are too great. Not only will members of this industry find themselves in dire economic trouble if they fail to follow the guidelines, the risk of debilitating injury or death is simply too great.

A few cases recently have highlighted the need and sometimes lack of fall protection equipment.

Incident 1
Just recently a NSW court has fined a company and its director after for a young new worker’s death. Despite requiring workers to wear a harness and lanyard when working at heights, a specialist demolition company failed to ensure the fall protection was anchored before workers were exposed to risk. The Court heard that in August 2007, the company began to dismantle the roof of a single-storey suburban house. Workers made an access point through the bathroom ceiling near the edge of the roof, but then had to climb unsecured up the roofing tiles to anchor their lanyards at the ridge board. An experienced worker already at the peak said he saw the new labourer move out onto the tiles, but did not see him fall. The injured worker sustained traumatic head injuries and fractured ribs, and died in hospital six days later.

Incident 2
Another incident occurred in Victoria where fall protection failed to be implemented, caused enormous economic fallout, as well the serious injury of an apprentice. The accident, which occurred in 2010 has only just been resolved. It occurred when four construction workers, including three apprentices, were replacing storm damaged roof tiles on a property. The 2.4 metre high rooftop working space didn’t not have the required guard rails installed, so when one of the apprentices lost his footing, he fell to ground, at which point cement splashed in his eye. While the fall itself did not hurt the apprentice, the cement damage which caused a number of following events, eventually lost him his sight in his left eye.

Incident 3
WorkCover NSW fined three companies over an accident involving serious injuries suffered by a 21 year old man who fell 14 meters off a scaffold at a paper mill. In that incident, safety practices across the entire project were questioned after the man fell through a 430mm gap between the scaffolding and wood chip machine.

For the Western Australian Code of Practise on Prevention of Falls in the Workplace go to
www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/PDF/Codes_of_Practice/code_falls.pdf 

http://www.aurenda.com

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Filed under Aurenda, Injury Management, Occupational Health and Safety, Workers Compensation, Workplace Injury