WORKPLACE INJURY MANAGEMENT
The Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 focuses on the management, prevention and administration of workplace injuries. The emphasis is on a safe, timely and durable return to work of injured workers.
There are two programs available to assist injured workers:
1. An Injury Management Program is a coordinated and managed program that integrates all aspects of injury management including treatment, rehabilitation, re-training, claims management and employment management practices to achieve optimum results.
The responsibility for establishing the program lies with the insurance company, who must lodge a copy of the program with WorkCover.
2. An employer must establish a Return-to-Work Program incorporating policies and procedures for the rehabilitation of injured workers. The program must follow the WorkCover Guidelines for employer's return to work programs. It will nominate the employer's return-to-work coordinator, list the rehabilitation providers who will work with that employer and describe how suitable duties will be made available for workers who are certified fit for such duties.
An injured worker must notify their employer that they have received an injury as soon as possible after the event occurred.
The employer must then notify their insurer within 48 hours after becoming aware that a worker has received a workplace injury that seems to be a significant injury.
A significant injury is one that prevents a worker from undertaking their normal jobs for more than seven days.
For injuries other than significant injuries, the employer must notify the insurer within seven days after becoming aware that the worker has received an injury.
An injured worker must:
- participate and cooperate in the establishment of the Injury Management (IM) plan
- comply with their obligations under the IM plan
- nominate a treating doctor who will agree to participate in the development of the IM plan
- authorise the treating doctor to provide relevant information to the insurer or the employer for the purposes of the IM plan
- make all reasonable efforts to return to work with their pre-injury employer, as soon as possible, having regard to the injury.
The employer must participate and cooperate in the establishment of the IM plan and comply with the obligations imposed upon the employer under the IM plan.
The employer must also provide suitable employment for a worker who has been incapacitated for work and is able to return to work on a full-time or part-time basis. A return-to-work plan will be developed by the return-to-work coordinator after discussions with the worker and the treating doctor.
Insurance company's obligations
After being advised by the employer that a worker has suffered a significant injury, the insurance company must initiate action within three working days, including making contact with the worker, the employer and the worker's treating doctor.
The insurance company must then:
- establish an injury management plan for the worker in consultation with the employer, the doctor and the worker
- provide to the employer and worker information regarding the IM plan
- keep the employer informed of significant steps taken or proposed to be taken under the IM plan.
The nominated treating doctor
The nominated treating doctor:
- must provide a WorkCover Medical Certificate
- is the point of communication for treatment and the IM plan
- will be authorised by the worker to provide to the employer and insurance company information relating to the nature of the worker's injury, the extent of incapacity, any restrictions on employment prognosis, suitable duties and time frames for a return to suitable work.
The injury management consultant
Any difficulties in relation to the suitability of duties offered to injured workers can be referred to an injury management consultant. The injury management consultant is a medical practitioner appointed by WorkCover to facilitate agreement between the treating doctor, the worker and the employer about the suitability of duties.
For further information contact:
AMIEU Office on 02 4929 5496