Workplace injury and injury management

What is WorkCover?

WorkCover is the NSW government body which manages and administers workplace safety and workers’ compensation. WorkCover’s functions include:

  • enforcing health and safety law, including conducting investigations and prosecutions if the law is breached;
  • licensing high-risk activities;
  • licensing and regulating workers’ compensation insurers; and
  • ensuring that workers who are injured can return to work quickly and safely.

If You Are Injured At Work

Workers' compensation covers injuries or illnesses which happen:

  • at work;
  • on the way to or from work; and
  • because of your work.

Workers’ compensation covers:

  • weekly compensation if you cannot perform your usual duties;
  • medical expenses (including the cost of medication); and
  • rehabilitation.

In the case of serious injury, compensation is paid for permanent impairment.

Hot Tip: Take care of yourself!

The most common injuries to young workers are sprains and strains, fractures, bruising, crushing and burns. The most common causes of injury are manual handling, falls (including falling from heights) and vehicle accidents.

If you are injured, ask your supervisor or human resources department about filling in a Workers’ Compensation form. For further information or assistance, contact WorkCover.

The latest studies show that returning to work after some kinds of injuries can help people to recover more quickly. Workers, employers, doctors and insurance companies each have a role to play in the system. This means that you, your doctor, your employer and the insurance company should work together to make your return to work as smooth and safe as possible.

Personal injury

Workers who are injured at work may be able to sue their employer (or some other party) for personal injury. There are some significant restrictions on the circumstances under which personal injury actions can be brought, so it is very important to see a lawyer before taking any action. The time limitations on bringing a personal injury claim are strict, and vary depending on the type of claim. If you think that you might be able to make a personal injury claim, you should see a lawyer as soon as possible.

Reinstatement of injured worker

If you are dismissed from your job because you are injured, then you have several options. The most common option is a complaint to the Fair Work Commission, the Anti Discrimination Board or Australian Human Rights Commission. However, you also have the right to apply for reinstatement for up to two years from the date of your dismissal. You need to show that you have recovered from your injury and that you can do your job.

This kind of application is part of the workers’ compensation system.

Injury Management Plan

If you have to stop work because of an injury, then you will need an ‘injury management plan’ (Workplace Injury and Workers’ Compensation Act 1998, section 45). The injury management plan describes all the activities that are needed to help you return to work. It can include:

  • details of treatment required for you to recover from your injury;
  • when you are likely to return to work; and
  • whether you will require suitable duties.

Suitable duties are tasks which you can do while you are recovering from your injury or illness. It might be a modified version of your usual job, or it might be a different job completely.

Where to get more information

If you have questions about your return-to-work or your workers’ compensation claim. You can ask:

  • your employer’s return to work coordinator;
  • the insurance company managing your claim;
  • your union; and
  • personal injury lawyer – the NSW Law Society can provide the contact details of an accredited specialist personal injury lawyer.