Every worker has the right to come home safe and well. Unfortunately, for many workers across Australia, this isn’t the case.
Injuries in workplaces are common. Some are due to specific incidents, and others develop over a long period of time – such as back injuries from lifting heavy boxes, psychological injuries from exposure to bullying, or skin cancer from being outside for too long without proper PPE.
No matter what your job is, you have the right to employment that is free from harm. If something happens to you at work, you should follow these steps.
See your own GP
No matter how minor or serious the work accident seems, always seek medical help.
If there’s an immediate danger or injury, call 000 or ask someone to do it for you. Get a trusted work mate to help you out if you need.
Even if it’s less serious, you should leave work immediately and go to see your own GP. Despite what your boss may tell you, you don’t have to see a company doctor instead of your own after an accident. You can, and should, see your own medical specialists. They know you and your medical history and are better able to diagnose any injuries.
You should also never let a company rep sit in on your medical appointment with you, no matter how well-meaning it might seem at the time. You can, and should, refuse to let anyone in with you. Medical appointments are private.
If you notice any injuries afterwards take record of them and seek medical advice.
Keep your own records
You must notify your employer in writing of any work-related injury or illness within 30 days of the incident or your diagnosis.
Separately, you should create a record of it. If your company doesn’t have an official register or incident report for accidents, you should take time to detail what happened, where, how and any witnesses that were present. The record should be in your own words – don’t let anyone tell you what to write.
You should also include details of any previous occasions when you have raised the safety issue to your supervisor or manager. We’ve previously discussed why it’s so important for workers to report it, record it, repeat it.
Make your own WorkSafe claim
After an accident at work, you should submit a WorkSafe injury claim form as soon as possible.
Before you submit your claim form, you should ask your doctor to provide you with a Certificate of Capacity. This is an official document that is required for you to receive weekly payments from WorkSafe.
If your employer tells you that you can’t or shouldn’t submit a form – ignore them. This is illegal. It is your right to submit a claim.
You can, and should, refuse to sign any incident form or completed WorkSafe claim form you haven’t written yourself. Talk to your union rep if you need advice on dealing with a difficult or pushy supervisor.
Appeal any rejected claims
After you’ve submitted your WorkSafe claim form, they will let you know within 28 days if your claim has been accepted. You have the right to appeal if WorkSafe unfairly rejects your claim.
You must contact WorkSafe and request a review of the decision. The review will be looked at by a senior WorkSafe agent.
You should also talk to your union if you’d like them to assist you in this appeal process.
Take your own time
If you need to take time off after your accident, your GP will let you know. Always follow medical advice as this will help you heal faster. Rushing back to work can make an existing injury worse.
You do have to attend medical appointments and rehabilitation to help yourself heal. WorkSafe may ask you to attend medical appointments from time to time, and you should attend these – they will help keep your claim progressing. You should keep receipts for any medical treatment you have, as you can have these reimbursed to you by WorkSafe.
Never allow your employer to force you, or your doctor, to change your medical certificate to say you’re fit to return to work if your doctor has told you that you’re not.
Don’t accept an impairment benefit
WorkSafe may offer you a lump sum called an impairment benefit if your injury is permanent, and unlikely to get better.
It’s critical that you never accept any lump sum from WorkSafe before seeking legal advice. Accepting a lump sum may mean that you are unable to start a compensation claim at a later date.
A compensation claim can be made for all physical and psychological injuries, as long as there’s a connection between the work accident and the injury.
There are time limits and criteria, so seeking legal advice early is critical. At Maurice Blackburn, our lawyers will review your legal rights for free, so it won’t cost you anything to know where you stand.
A compensation claim can award you damages for:
- Lost earnings
- Lost superannuation
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and treatment expenses
- Pain and suffering
Making a claim for compensation after a work accident doesn’t need to be overwhelming.
With the right support from Maurice Blackburn, we can guide you through the process to help you get everything you’re entitled to. Our team are experts in work accident injuries and know how to maximise your compensation.
For a free consultation in your local area, contact us today.