The latest industry insights into compensation law.

Queensland’s shifting focus on work-related sprains, strains and soft-tissue injuries

Work-related sprains and strains are injuries commonly sustained by Queensland workers during the performance of their duties. In particular, slips, trips and falls have been identified by WorkCover Queensland as the leading causes of work-related musculoskeletal injuries in Queensland.

Common sprain, strain and soft-tissue type injuries include:

Acute Injuries:

•  often caused by sudden trauma, including falls, twisting movements or from a physical blow; and

•  commonly result in sprains, strains and contusions (bruising).

Overuse Injuries:

•  often the result of repetitive movements, where the utilised body part is given insufficient time to heal between repetitions; and

•  commonly result in tendonitis and bursitis.

Sprains, strains and soft-tissue injuries sustained by a Queensland worker during the performance of their duties will be covered under their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.

Injuries of this nature often require medical treatment and rehabilitation. In many instances, work related injuries will also result in an absence from work, which in turn leads to economic loss in the form of lost salary and/or use of sick/personal leave, which can result in a significant financial burden on the injured worker.

Accordingly, it is important for injured workers to ensure their statutory compensation entitlements are protected. This can be achieved by reporting the injury to their employer and contacting WorkCover Queensland (or their employer’s self-insurer entity) to lodge an application for compensation in relation to the work-related injury. It is also a requirement to provide the insurer with a compliant workers’ compensation medical certificate with the application, which can be obtained from a GP, specialist or other relevant medical provider.

It is important to note that the Queensland workers’ compensation scheme is a ‘no-fault’ system, accordingly, it does not need to be established that the employer was negligent or at fault for the injury, only that the injury is work-related. This is in contrast to a common law claim where negligence must be established to receive compensation.

The application for compensation must be lodged with WorkCover Queensland or the relevant workers’ compensation self-insurer, within six (6) monthsof the date of injury.

Due to the regularity and prevalence of sprains, strains and soft-tissue injuries, WorkCover Queensland and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland have recently implemented a pilot program seeking to address the risk factors contributing to sprain and strain type injuries in the Queensland retail tyre industry.

Participating employers will be provided with information and advice on not only how to prevent these types of incidents, but also on how to proceed after a workers’ compensation statutory claim has been accepted.

The initiative will also include site visits and the provision of guidance and support for participating employers. One key focus will be managing hazardous manual tasks and the occurrence of slips, trips and falls.

This renewed focus on prevention and education is hopefully a step in the right direction to avoid preventable workplace injuries for Queensland workers. However, it remains to be seen whether the pilot project will result in a reduction of the number of preventable workplace injuries and consequential workers’ compensation claims in the retail tyre industry.

Prioritising and promoting the health and safety of Queensland workers is of paramount importance and if the pilot program turns out to be a success, we may see such programs being implemented in other industries.

Regrettably, workplace injuries that result in time off work and the need for medical treatment are commonplace and we strongly encourage anyone who has sustained a work related injury to seek expert legal advice as early as possible to ensure all entitlements are protected.

vbr Lawyers are highly experienced in work-related injury claims and can assist with ensuring your rights and entitlements are protected.

Charlton is an Associate at our Gold Coast office and holds degrees in Business and Law from Griffith University.
Sean is proud to be a lawyer for everyday people no matter what their issue. He has practised in compensation law for all his legal career and he has a superb track record of achieving outstanding results for his clients.

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