WorkSafe awards – injured workers should nominate themselves: a priceless story

“Love your site, so wish it had been here when I was pushed into this journey ten years ago. A workplace bullying victim me, bullied even more by Workcover, the legislation and all those trough slurpers who suck at the Workcover purse”, says P, who is sharing a rather nauseating verbatim transcription of a question and answer session that was conducted at Worksafe Week 2009 by QBE, and a most enlightening letter she wrote to the then workcover Minister Tim Holding.

“I was found to have incurred a 30% psychiatric injury in 2006, and was “compensated’ out of the system with barely two years income to support me and blocked at all attempts to get retraining.

Now homeless and deeply impoverished living on the disability pension.”

WorkSafe awards – injured workers should nominate themselves!

Worksafe Week (Victoria) is coming up, think it would be great if all injured workers nominated themselves to receive Worksafe Awards.
Just get on their site and do it. Anyone who enters and or survives that system definitely deserves one. Nominations close in just one week, Fri 27th July.

I went to Worksafe Week in 2009 just to see what happens there. I blundered into one session run by QBE insurers and found myself taping the rather astounding proceedings. To me it looked like direct evidence of the ways in which the insurers encourage employers to be totally adversarial about doctor’s diagnoses of an injured worker’s health condition.

I’ve attached the transcript and a copy of the letter I wrote to the Minister. He whitewashed the situation, of course, but I think the transcript speaks for itself.

Transcript of the Worksafe week 2009 run by QBE

QBE answering questions on Risk Management

The following document is a verbatim transcription of a question and answer session that was conducted at Worksafe Week 2009 during session No. MEL 34, “Risk management essentials for integrating workplace OHS, Return to Work and premium.” The session was presented by QBE, a Worksafe Insurance Agent.  The information exchange that is featured in this transcription is conducted between unknown members of the audience, and various Panel Members representing QBE.

 Audience Member 1 (Male):

“I’ve just got a couple of questions. Uuh, you mentioned a couple of times about uuh, getting in contact with the treating doctor early in the process.  Uuhm, the first thing I want to ask you about, is what if the employee, doesn’t give you authorisation at this stage. The next thing I want to ask you about is with regard to, performance management and stress, uh my experience is very often that uuhm, people who have been performance managed, then put in stress claims, aahm and it becomes a fairly difficult exercise in terms of, making contact with that employee. In fact what quite often happens is if you, endeavour to maintain lines of communication, you get accused of exacerbating their stress and stress and perhaps moving towards bullying. So I’m interested in your comments on both of those issues.”

Panel Member 1(Female):

“Yeah for sure.  I guess from that perspective, when uuhm, you know workers give you permission to talk to their treating practitioner, well that’s part of the claim form.  And they need to sign to make sure. Because otherwise uuhm you can’t  manage the return to work if you can’t talk to their doctor. So that’s something where, uuhm you know QBE would need to get involved and talk to the injured worker and say, you know  “As part of your claim on the claim form there’s a release, to authorise, you know both QBE and your employer to talk to your treating practitioner. You need to sign that so that we can appropriately manage, your worker’s compensation claim.

Stress? Oooh.. It’s uuh… I wish I had you know I had a black or white answer for you. Stress claims, are extremely difficult to manage because they are somebody’s perception and as I said before, perception is reality. And like it’s depending on the circumstances uuhm, you know, working together with your agent to look at you know, so if you have been performance managing somebody,  and you’ve been, you know documenting all your procedures and things like that going through the process and they have lodged a stress claim on you, throughout the investigation process that QBE would go through, uuhm you know and if you’re trying to make contact with the injured worker and they’re saying  that you know that it’s bullying and harassment uuhm I guess that’s when we need to come back and have a look at it, on a case by case basis. So you know, uuhm, in consultation with QBE, we’ve got, you know,um health management specialists within our organisation that can assist in that circumstance. So if the worker is thinking that you’re harassing them [giggle] because they’ve put in their stress claim, um there’s other avenues out there, for you to get assistance, because they are really trained to manage.


Audience Member 2 (Male):

(14 seconds speaking but inaudible)

Panel Member 1 (Female):

“I don’t have that data on me at the moment[Aside] Do we have that? How much is psychological and how much is physical? (Inaudible cross talk) I don’t know. I could find out. I could find out. [Word or two inaudible] I could give you my details afterwards and I can come back to you. Sorry, sorry I don’t have that data on me at the moment. Sorry.”

Panel Member 2 (Male):

“I would probably think that, It’s my experience when claims get over 26 weeks, I mean, taking a degree of black and white, you soon work out whether a claim is legit or it’s not legit, and I think, in relation to what this gentleman said about performance managing, it’s quite often not that you’re performance managing, it’s the way in which you performance manage. So if you don’t have clear policies and procedures, just going back to your question, so, if you’re dragging them in for a performance management meeting and you haven’t followed protocol and you haven’t given them written documentation about what the meeting’s about, what the allegations are and that they can bring a support person well you’re just shooting yourself in the foot so it’s very, going back to what you were saying yes stress claims are the most difficult claims to manage. But if your documentation and your procedure is accurate, you should be you should be ok with it. That’s my experience. Going back to your question in relation to the “after 26 weeks” I would probably think, more often than not, when claims get to that, and this is just my experience, you have depression or something as a secondary factor. So yes, I think that you are dealing with potentially psychological or other factors that are impacting on getting the worker back to work. Which then becomes right back to the early intervention stuff, and so crucial too if you’re concerned about the worker. If we write, as soon as we get a medical certificate, our philosophy is we write to the doctor. In relation to stress claims, we write to the doctor and actually tell the doctor, in an appropriate way, what has actually been going on in that we’re trying to performance manage. So, because we take the view is the doctor doesn’t know what the doctor doesn’t know so you’ve got to be on the front foot and you provide that information and you’re basically painting the picture. But I think that’s a very good question going back to in relation to after the 26 weeks, I’d say more often than not that there are psychological factors and even if there are or there aren’t, I guess when a claim gets to 26 weeks, you really have to think, very openly about, well what is the likelihood that the person is going to return back to this organisation, and this work. And that’s where it’s it’s sometimes it’s better to look at, the whole rehabilitation process and um get a rehab provider involved and look at retraining. “

Audience Member 3 (Male):

Simple question, if you had an organisation that has, a preferred doctor, if you had an organisation that has a preferred doctor that it refers its employees to, after an injury has been recorded, but that worker then goes to, their own doctor and you have the company preferred doctor saying “Yes they’re fit for, certain duties”, but their own doctor then turns around and says “No, they’re not fit for any duties, where do you go?”

Panel Member 1(Female):


Audience Member 3 (Male):

“You’ve got a conflict of medical evidence..

Panel Member 1(Female):

I guess from that perspective, one potential option uuhm and from a cost perspective, instead of just jumping for an independent medical examination opinion first, uum the first option that we could try would be to actually sit down with the treating doctor, have a case conference and say “You know what, you said this person can’t do anything. We have sent them to another doctor  who’s actually saying, ‘well you know what they can do something’ and sitting down with them and saying to them ‘Explain to me. Explain to me, why this person in your opinion doesn’t have a capacity … We obviously can’t force them, to change their medical opinion within, I guess, that conference, uuhm but generally’ I guess we can fit it in with saying ‘well Somebody else is saying something different”. That can be a first option. Another option, would be to utilise, as I’ve said before, a health management specialist to give the doctor a call and say ‘You know what, we’ve got a differing opinion to you’, so can you, and sometimes you know, doctor-to-doctor uum you know can be quite a successful tool to use. If you’re not successful in, you know, using both those techniques as a starting point, well then you can look at sending the person for an independent medical examination should it be, appropriate.”

 Panel Member 3 (Male):

“And Lara [speaker clears his throat] sometimes, and I know it’s not always easy, but we’ve we’ve been successful in the past. If we’re having a doctor that is strongly uuh, has a strong opinion in relation to return to work and getting them back to work well then we get that doctor to come out, to our workplace and we pay for the visit and it might cost us a thousand dollars or fifteen hundred dollars for the doctor’s time, but I look at it this way, it’s money well spent because if we get the worker’s doctor let’s just say on side, or, are able to give them insight as to how our organisation actually operates, as opposed to what an injured worker’s perception may be which can be two totally different things. So the other alternative is sometimes by throwing a few, a few dollars out of your organisation and not putting it through the costs of the claim uuhm you, you advance, further. And once again it comes back to ensuring that you pass the information that you have onto the appropriate people.”

Panel Member 1(Female):

Any more questions ?  No.



Letter Minister WorkCover

click to enlarge a little


Thank you so so much for sharing this gem with us! It’s priceless!

Worksafe Awards 2012

View the “spiel” about the upcoming [popup url=’’]worksafe award on the worksafe website[/popup]

Or, even you feel up to it, view the blah blah about the [popup url=’ ‘]WorkSafe week coming up in October[/popup] on the worksafe website. Perhaps it’s time for some new transcribing!

11 Responses to “WorkSafe awards – injured workers should nominate themselves: a priceless story”

  1. Just an update on the Workover Awards. I did nominate myself, for surviving the system and being persistent in my desire to return to gainful employment. I’ve put the copy of my nomination below. Yesterday I got a cheery form email from Worksafe Week telling me my nomination is now up on site. But, you know what, i couldn’t find it.

    Worksafe Week Nomination
    My name is Pauline Pope, and I have survived the gross bullying that the Workcover system dishes out to injured workers for in excess of ten years now. I think I deserve a Worksafe Award for my persistent, but ultimately fruitless efforts to be retrained by the system so that I could return to work.

    I have enclosed a copy of a letter I sent to my Workcover Insurance agent which outlines the efforts I made and the resistance I encountered. Subsequent to my complaint to the Minister, CGU did send me to an employment counselling service. However, they advised the service that no report was required and that they were not to identify any potential courses for me to attend. This absolute and final sham exacerbated my symptoms to a point where I became severely suicidal, and eventually homeless. I have been homeless now for over 18 months. This is what becomes of injured workers within the adversarial mess that our so called “no fault” system produces.

    If this is what other workers encounter, and I believe it is, then it is no wonder that Workcover does so poorly on its return to work statistics.

  2. Pauline, GCU was trashed by the Ombudsman’s investigation in 2011 – Insurer CGU was found to have hidden about 10,000 invoices in a locked cupboard in order to obtain lucrative WorkSafe incentive payments. CGU has since been fined $2.8 million and ordered to repay the $2.5 million for the manipulation known as ‘gaming’, which Mr Brouwer said was “clearly improper”. Mr Brouwer’s investigation uncovered evidence that CGU staff, including managers, were manipulating the scheme, benefiting by $2.5 million before the practice was detected.

    During interviews with the Ombudsman, workers from CGU admitted some files were binned if they lapsed the due date for payment, because there was no system in place for recording when the account was lodged. This meant the agent would wait for a duplicate account to arrive to process that within the allocated time period, avoiding a fine by WorkSafe and claiming a bonus payment for processing the payments on time.

    “If I was a person punching accounts and I have to hit a certain level, that’s checkin in that day, and the timeliness is really thoroughly checked and it’s a tight measure…I could throw a whole batch of those in the bin, walk over to the security bin…and they’re gone,” a manager at CGU told the ombudsman….

    I am sorry to hear that you are with Xchanging – we rate them as bad as Allianz (the worst of the worst).

    By the way someone asked us to which insurer they should switch as an employer.. and I find this question terribly difficult to answer. Any suggestions?

    workcovervictim July 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm
    • How good is that? I suppose Workcover is like hired gun IME’s, they have to be seen to do the right thing once in a while. It helps them deny the complaints that so many injured workers make about the system. CGU made so many errors in all the financial dealings I had with them. Once they paid my psychiatrists fee into my account. I didn’t request it, and their usual practice was to pay the psych direct. At the same time I was waiting payment of a $500 travel refund request (it covered the first few years travel as I was too sick to process this stuff prior to that.) It took me two years and many phone calls and letters to try to find out what the mystery payment was for, and more than that to get my refund. In between they suddenly sent me a letter telling me they’d overpaid me and if I didn’t repay them in a week they would take me to court! And my refund was still outstanding! I’ll attach the file of the letter I wrote back if I can find it. Eventually they had to write me a letter of apology and change the form letter they’d sent out. It didn’t in any way make up for the exacerbation of my symptoms their bullying had caused, but it did make me laugh especially when one of the case managers rang me up to thank me, saying the workers at CGU hated sending out those letters!
      Oops can’t work out how to attach file here. I’ll pop it on the site in a couple of days.

  3. Well I have to say that my experience with qbe is a nightmare
    They never follow procedure or adhere to any legislative obligations,yet they expect us to comply?
    They employ yes men and women who are ethically compromised beyond belief
    They are a criminal enterprise hiding in plain view fully supported by workcover (the dirty crims)
    I am very sorry we all have to suffer doubly when we make a legitimate claim and send my thoughts and good wishes to all of you who are caught up in this mess.

    • Hi Calm,
      You are so right. My experience of the nightmare was being with CGU who strangely haven’t had their contract renewed in Victoria this year. I think all the private insurers are the same, as I’m now with Xchanging and they are pulling all the same old tricks of not listening to my requests for retraining and sending me to IME’s to see if they can cut off my access to paid psychological consulting and psychiatric treatment. Even though they know I have a 30% serious psychiatric injury certificate, that I am homeless and constantly struggling with episodes of major depression, suicidality and post traumatic stress disorder. The real problem lies in the Workcover system and its private insurers all needing to make profits from the system. There is a direct conflict of interest between needing to make a profit and needing to provide rehabilitation and finanacial support/compensation to injured workers. And you already know who loses out in that conflict.

  4. Thanks everyone for your responses. The minister did a little investigation and totally whitewashed the tape, saying basically they didn’t really mean it like that. As if! Workcover week is notable for the complete absense of any concern for or involvement of injured workers.

  5. It wouldn’t be very pleasant for Worksafe to have an injured worker with ethics and human values participating in the awards and pointing to the MONOLITHIC AND SOCIOPATHIC CORPORATE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.

  6. Someone posted the following on our Facebook page:
    “Worksafe should bulk mail to all injured workers in their database about this event.
    Just went to their web site to express my intention to participate to WorkSafe Week and surprise WorkSafe DO NOT recognise my e-mail address, it says “We could not find the email on our records. Please try again”

    workcovervictim July 22, 2012 at 10:00 am
  7. I must say this story renders me (and most of you by the looks of it too) speechless!
    Thanks for helping us uncover the real sick workers comp system – I applaud you and, yep, I certainly do nominate you for the workcover survivor academy award!

    workcovervictim3 July 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm
  8. At least the abuse and negligence is consistent across all states, it seems. Adversarial from the day you lodge a claim. It’s not about helping injured workers – it’s about denying liability at any cost.

    John McPhilbin July 20, 2012 at 9:37 am
    • i believe the workers comp system is actually being destroyed by politicians . they are using the medical and legal systems to do their dirty work for them . and letting the doctors and lawyers milk the guts out of workcover. It’s bad enough being bullyied at work . but then to be treated with complete and utter contempt by doctors and lawyers ; while they use you as a mealticket . it;s all aboard the gravy train for the doctors and lawyers . it;s been ten years now that i have been trying to get my rights to workers comp . i have not even got the money for a single packet of painkillers ; let alone the thousands of dollars i have payed out in chiropractic fees and physiotherapy fees’ let alone the petrol money and travel expenses ‘ phone calls . the doctor that i was stupid enough to trust as my nominated treating doctor is a barefaced liar an arrogant ignorant pig and a bully in his own right. he threatened me that i would not get my job back and that i would not get compensation either . he then said ( oh i believe that you have a pre ; existing mental injury) he then sent me to a psychiatrist who claimed i was bi- polar . i ended up with two claims ‘ as my lawyer told me i had to be looking for work or i would be denied workers comp. so i got another job and ended up with neck back and shoulder injuries on top of my psychological injuries . workcoverup is a complete joke. i have lost my family , friends of decades ; my confidence ; my self worth as a human being . I would like to be able to work out just how much money has gone into the pockets of every lawyer ; and every doctor that have parasited me for money over the last 10 years . no stress or anxiety for these parasites, the system was created by them (for them) the system is a form of psychological abuse and bullying ; and the main offenders are politicians doctors and lawyers . it is white collar crime .