We are very grateful to ‘Kim” who kindly found the courage to share her story with us. Whilst Kim initially suffered a relatively “minor” back injury at her first workplace, she had not been treated properly by her then employer (and insurer) and was consequently forced to seek alternate employment, where she suffered horrendous abuse to be only pushed into another position where she was further exploited by another greedy and cruel employer. The domino effect of one injury is crushing, and we can see now how the original physical injury actually created a psychological injury also, which made her very vulnerable to further injury….
Domino effect of a workplace injury – injured worker’s ordeal
I had a back injury three years ago which put me off work for about 6 weeks.
I was employed casually at the time, and although my employer had made promises of a full time salary package for 5 months, they immediately dismissed me when I had the injury.
I could barely walk for 6 weeks and was in terrible pain. My injury did heal but I still have to be careful not to lift anything too heavy.
Of course having no income was very financially stressful, but worse was the psychological effect.
At the age of only 35 I felt as though this was the end of my career, that I would never work again and became very depressed and anxious as a result.
Out of financial desperation I took a full time job in a company that I would not normally consider working for.
I was told to go home that day and never returned to work, while the person who harassed and bullied me remained at work. I again made another work cover claim, this time it was accepted and I received psychological counselling and was placed on anxiety medication as I had become suicidal. I did not receive any support from family or friends, the symptoms of my injury were treated as trivial by my family, which caused a huge rift which still has not been repaired.
I was on work cover payments for about 12 months.
Eventually I returned to work part time in an extremely demeaning role, off site, away from the person who had harassed me.
This was very demoralising, but I was determined not to let it destroy my injured self esteem. My psychologist was very supportive and helped me to see the truth of what was happening to me. She encouraged me to find employment elsewhere.
Through the occupational rehab services and the WISE program, I secured a full time job and was under the illusion that my life was going to get back to normal. My employer was receiving 50% of my wages through the WISE program, which ran for 12 months.
The new employer had also begun to bully me. I have had to leave the workplace and again apply for work cover payments, because the insurance agent told me I could not claim the re-aggravation of my PTSD symptoms as part of the claim that had been accepted, because I had not needed to see my psychologist since I had started my new job.
They told me this was a new injury and therefore could not pay for me to have any more treatment. My new work cover claim has been rejected. The insurer’s decision was based on the employer denying everything, even though I have written proof of the bullying, and also based on the lies of the “IME” psychiatrist who saw me for half an hour and reported many things completely contrary to what I told them.
I am currently seeking legal advice . I have just come to the realisation that all of this goes right back to the original back injury.
If I had been treated properly by my employer when I had that first injury, I would never have gone to work for the company where I was further injured, then again pushed into another position where I was further exploited by another greedy and cruel employer.
I never had any problems with anxiety, depression or psychological issues before any of this happened. The ongoing issues are immense and have only been made worse by the work cover system.
I wish I had never had that original injury. The domino effect of one injury is crushing, I can see now how the original physical injury actually created a psychological injury also, which made me very vulnerable to further injury.
- the nature and the consequences of stigma experienced by injured workers
- secondary traumatization by workcover victims
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