By Alex Cheng – Lawpath
Are you aware of your obligations if one of your employees is injured at work?
Usually, employee injuries are insured under one of the many workers compensation schemes in Australia. There are different authorities that oversee the schemes in each jurisdiction:
- New South Wales – State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA)
- Queensland – WorkCover Queensland
- South Australia – ReturntoWorkSA (RTWSA)
- Tasmania – WorkSafe Tasmania
- Victoria – WorkSafe Victoria
- Western Australia – WorkCover WA
- Australian Capital Territory – WorkSafe ACT
- Northern Territory – NT WorkSafe
- Commonwealth – Comcare
Workers compensation is a form of insurance that will pay an injured worker benefits such as lost earnings and medical expenses. There are some exceptions but generally employers must pay for workers compensation.
But having workers compensation insurance doesn’t end your responsibility as an employer. There are specific requirements in each state that you need to be aware of in the event of an accident at work.
New South Wales
In NSW, employers have several responsibilities to carry out when an employee is injured.
SIRA requires employers to keep a record of any employee injuries on a register physical or digital register. When an employee is injured, employers must record the name, address, age, occupation, industry, time, date, nature and cause of each injury.
Additionally, insurers must be notified within 48 hours of the injury with details about the employer, the business, the injury and the treating doctor. If you do not notify the insurer, your representative, the injured employee, or their representative may also notify the insurer instead.
Finally, if the injury is “serious”, “dangerous”, or resulted in death, you must preserve the site of the incident and report the injury to Safework NSW by calling 13 10 50.
Penalties apply for failing to report to SIRA or Safework NSW.
For more information, visit SIRA or Safework NSW. After the injury, when the employee is recovering employers are to implement their return to work program. Find out more about return to work programs here.
WorkCover Queensland requires employers to report employee injuries within eight business days regardless of whether the employee is able or likely to make a claim. Reports can be made by phone, fax, post or online.
Just like NSW, employers must report “serious” or “dangerous” incidents to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). This can include any injuries injuries requiring immediate in-patient treatment at a hospital, uncontrolled leaking substances or and collapsing structures. Again, there is a responsibility to preserve the site and a record must be kept for five years.
RTWSA requires employers to contact the appropriate RTWSA claims agent as soon possible to report the injury.
RTWSA also imposes return to work responsibilities on employers. This involves active participation in the development and implementation of the injured employee’s recovery and return to work plan. This includes providing suitable duties and employment according to the employee’s rate of recovery.
Fatalities, serious injuries, serious illnesses (including COVID-19) and dangerous incidents must be reported to SafeWork SA.
As a Tasmanian employer, you must inform an injured employee of their right to make a claim and supply the claim form. If you have received an employee’s workers compensation claim, you must notify your insurer about receiving the claim within three working days and forward the completed claim within five working days. The insurer is to confirm receiving the claim and give an update within 28 days. Claims are decided within 84 days. You are to start making weekly payments during this time.
As with other states, Tasmania requires employers to report “serious” or “dangerous” incidents, with the site preserved and record keeping of the incident for at least five years from the date of reporting. There is also an obligation to support the employee’s return to work or injury management plan.
Victoria also imposes similar responsibilities for serious incidents. Similar to NSW, Victorian employers are to keep a register of injuries.
Employers have 10 calendar days to submit the appropriate forms and reports with the WorkSafe agent. After submitting the claim, employers are to plan and support the employee’s return to work.
WA has similar obligations regarding managing claims, incident reporting and return to work support following employee injuries.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT also has similar requirements for incident reporting. The ACT similarly requires claim management, injury registers, and return to work support.
NT also has incident reporting requirements. See more about claim management and return to work planning here.
Like the state jurisdictions, the Commonwealth scheme requires incident reporting with site preservation, claim management, and return to work support.
So what should you do?
Since your specific responsibilities may be different depending on the nature of the incident, you should contact your appropriate authority if you have any enquiries.
It will also be helpful to consult a lawyer to advise you on your specific situation since you might face disputes regarding claims under workers compensation or negligence.
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