Health and Safety Profile
All employers in Queensland are required to have WorkCover Insurance. Even if your employer has failed to obtain insurance with WorkCover, you are still covered and able to make a claim.
Some employers may have their own insurance schemes that operate on a similar basis to WorkCover.
Once you make a claim your employer will be required to pay an excess; however, WorkCover or the alternative insurance company will pay the majority of the compensation to the injured worker.
In 2017, the Gold Coast City’s population was 592,330.
The working population breakdown:
• 139,330 full-time workers
• 85,645 part-time workers
• 28.8% blue collar workers
• 69.5% white collar workers
The top five occupation groups on the Gold Coast:
1. Sales assistants and sales persons 7.9%
2. Specialist managers 5.4%
3. Hospitality retail and service managers 5.0%
4. Health professionals 4.9%
5. Education professionals 4.4%
The biggest employing industries on the Gold Coast:
Health care and social assistance 13%
Retail trade 12%
Accommodation and food services 11%
Education and training 9%
Professional, scientific and technical services 6%
Administrative and support services 4%
Public administration and safety 4%
Other services 23%
Gold Coast - accepted workers’ compensation claims (2014-15 – 2016-17)
• Average no. of accepted non-fatal claims per year 5,754 (8.8% of Qld claims)
• Average no. of accepted fatality claims per year 1 (2.2% of Qld fatality claims)
Injured workers on the Gold Coast City were off work for 44.9 days per claim on average, in line with the Queensland average of 45 days per claim.
94.3 per cent of injured workers on the Gold Coast returned to some form of employment (three year average 2014 -17) above the Queensland overall average of 94 per cent of injured workers returning to work.
Workers’ compensation claims by Gold Coast workers in high risk industries:
Construction had the highest number of claims per year – 776 claims on average over the three years, 2014 -17.
Manufacturing had the second highest number of claims per year – 747 claims on average over the three years.
The highest claim rates were recorded for workers in the manufacturing industry (55.1 claims per 1,000 workers), followed by construction (42.3 claims per 1,000 workers).
The industries with the highest average statutory costs per claim were transport, postal and warehousing ($12,811) and construction ($11,257).
Gold Coast - accepted non-fatal workers’ compensation claims (2014 -17)
Top five high risk occupations
1. Other labourers 12%
2. Sales assistants and sales persons 7%
3. Carers and aides 6%
4. Construction trades workers 6%
5. Automotive and engineering trades workers 6%
Top five agencies of injury:
1. Animal, human and biological 9%
2. Sheet and other metal 5%
3. Road and ground surfaces 5%
4. Powered equipment, tools and appliances 5%
5. Crates, boxes, cases, drums 4%
Top five mechanisms of injury:
1. Body stressing 32%
2. Falls, trips and slips 18%
3. Being hit by moving objects 18%
4. Hitting objects with a part of the body 17%
5. Vehicle incidents and other 9%
(Information courtesy of Queensland Government - www.worksafe.qld.gov.au)
In the Gold Coast Region, far less Workers Compensation claims were made per 1000 workers in all industries and up to 30% less claims in specific industries e.g. manufacturing; and agriculture, forestry and fishing, than the number of claims across the rest of Queensland during the same period (2014 -17).
While this data may indicate safer working practices by employers and workers in industries across the Gold Coast in comparison to the rest of Queensland, it may also reveal that some injured workers on the Gold Coast are not claiming their rightful access to Workers Compensation for workplace injuries.
Workers Compensation Claims
If you have been injured at work or during the course of your work place duties, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries.
The law states that if you have been injured in a work place accident, which was not your fault, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Such compensation may include amounts for:
• Economic Loss (or loss of income) – past and future;
• Medical and Hospital Expenses (past and future);
• Rehabilitation Expenses (past and future);
• Costs of re-training into alternative employment;
• Pain and suffering (general damages);
• Home modification expenses and/or personal care expenses (if required);
• Travel costs; and
• Lost superannuation and interest.
This list is not extensive and the type and amount of compensation claimable depends on each individual case.
What kind of injuries can be claimed?
• Physical Injuries (including soft-tissues injuries to neck/back, orthopaedic injuries, internal injuries, fractures, amputations, scarring etc);
• Accidents where someone has been killed (claims may be made by a dependant of the deceased);
• Psychological Injuries (including post-traumatic stress, depression, bullying etc); and
• Serious brain damage/serious physical injuries (such as quadriplegia, paraplegia, paralysis).
The Queensland Workers’ Compensation scheme is comprised of two parts:
a) Statutory phase
b) Common Law phase
The Statutory phase is a no-fault scheme whereby you can claim for time off work and medical expenses, as incurred. After a certain period of time your Statutory claim will be closed by WorkCover and your benefits will cease.
Once your claim has been closed you may or may not be offered a lump sum offer of compensation. If you are offered a lump sum offer of compensation under the Statutory claim phase, it is important that you obtain legal advice from a personal injury lawyer immediately. If you accept the offer, there may be consequences that prevent you from running a common law claim.
Common Law Phase:
The Common Law phase is where specialist personal injury lawyers can help, if your injury was caused by the negligence of your employer. In order to make a common law claim you need to show that your injury was caused by your employer in some way (i.e. you need to prove negligence). Negligence may not always be obvious – you should obtain legal advice in order to assess whether or not you may have a claim at common law.
You can only lodge a claim for common law damages once your Statutory Claim has been finalised. However, it is never too early to contact a personal injury lawyer, as they make sure your claim is run correctly from the start and guide you through the whole process.
Further, under the Common Law phase you may be entitled to a much larger sum of compensation, including amounts for future time off work and future medical expenses. This area of law can be quite complex.
When to consult a Workplace Injury Lawyer
There are strict time limits that apply to making a claim for personal injury in Queensland. Therefore, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible following your accident, in order to ensure that your legal rights are being protected. A lawyer can help you manage the statutory claim phase and ensure that you are prepared to lodge a common law claim as soon as possible.
The law can be complicated and confusing for non-lawyers and WorkCover and self-insurers do not necessarily operate to safe-guard your rights. Therefore, in order to ensure that you get the maximum compensation that you are legally entitled to, you should obtain legal advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Expert personal injury lawyers, Stallion Lawyers - Brisbane & Gold Coast (Member of Queensland Law Society) offer free initial consultations for all work place accident enquiries.
Stallion Lawyers also work on a ‘NO WIN, NO FEE’ basis for all claims. This means you will not be charged anything, unless or until a successful settlement of your claim is obtained. The cost of all outlays will be covered on your behalf throughout the running of your claim.
Unfortunately, not all law firms are willing to cover the cost of outlays and some may ask you to pay these fees yourself. Outlays include expenses such as medical reports, the cost of obtaining medical records, barrister fees and Court fees.
Many protections and rights we take for granted were fought for and won by unions. These include workers’ compensation; rest breaks; protective clothing; restrictions on lifting heavy objects; licences and training when working with heavy equipment; as well as bans on asbestos and dangerous chemicals.
All workers have a right to elect their workmates to be their representatives about health and safety issues. Health and safety reps are important watchdogs in the workplace to make sure employers comply with the law. These reps have rights to proper resources and training.
Unions can provide a wealth of expertise, resources, know-how and training to help health and safety reps perform their role. And if there are any problems or issues, workers and their reps can call on the union to back them up and refer them to personal injury lawyers if necessary.
(from https://www.awu.net.au/health-safety )
Everyone has a right to be safe at work, including volunteers. The Work Health and Safety Act (WHS) laws require organisations that employ paid workers will ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the physical and mental health and safety of its workers, including volunteers.
Other important employee rights include the Right to be free from discrimination and harassment of all types; Right to a safe workplace free of dangerous conditions, toxic substances, and other potential safety hazards; and the Right to fair wages for work performed.