Workplace Accidents: What You Should Know

by The FindLaw Team

When workplace injuries happen they can have a devastating effect on the worker and their family. Some jobs are dangerous by nature, so ensuring the safety of workers is essential. Other jobs may not have overt dangers, but employers still have to take into consideration the health and well being of their workers. Workplace injuries do happen, and there are laws that are designed to not only protect workers from workplace hazards, but assist them if they are injured during the course of their employment.

The area of workplace injuries is far too complex to cover in this article, so we here at FindLaw will provide a general overview of the general elements of workplace health and safety.

What are employers’ responsibilities?

The Industrial Relations Act (QLD) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (NSW and VIC) sets out the requirements of what employers must do to ensure a safe work environment for employees. The Acts mandate that employers:

• provide a safe workplace for employees which includes facilities and work systems
• ensure that employees are able to safely handle equipment or substances, as well as providing a safe area to store harmful material
• provide the proper training, supervision, instruction and information in the performance of their roles.

The various state Acts impose a large obligation to protect workers, which extends to ensuring that employees aren’t harassed or bullied at work. Failure to ensure a safe work place or practices can result in large penalties for employers.

Employees themselves must ensure that they act accordingly in a workplace and that their actions aren’t a danger to other workers.

What to do if a workplace injury occurs?

If an injury happens while at work, which includes travel to and from work, as well as any travel associated with the job, there are some general guidelines that are needed to be followed to receive compensation:

• notify the employer of the injury as well as the insurer, generally within 48 hours
• if the injury is serious, contact WorkCover and seek medical help
• complete all necessary compensation forms.

What are the general elements for a successful claim?

In order to bring a successful workplace injury claim, it is necessary to demonstrate that the job performed was the significant contributing factor to the injury. The determining factors in assessing if the injury was the result of the job are: the particular task in question and the duration; whether or not the injury or illness is heredity; as well as the likelihood of the injury occurring outside of the course of employment.

What is not covered in workplace injury laws?

If a worker is injured due to disobedience of the employer’s instructions on how to conduct a duty safely, they may still be entitled to some compensation on the facts of each individual situation. If they were drunk on the job for instance, there usually is no right for compensation.

Stress related injuries related to a demotion or disciplinary action generally aren’t covered, along with self inflicted injuries under the various state Acts. However, it should be noted that stress related injuries from bullying or harassment can potentially give rise to action under the various state Acts.

What are employer’s duties towards injured workers?

A worker who is legitimately injured during the course of employment must provide assistance in the rehabilitation process. Alternatively, employees must ensure that they participate fully in the rehabilitation requirements in order to continue to receive compensation.

It is also illegal for an employer to terminate the employment of a person who was legitimately injured through work.

Workplace injuries and compensation laws are extremely difficult to navigate. For anyone who needs answers relating to workplace injuries, seek legal help. 


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