Workers COMPENSATION and nothing else


Our evil system is called workers’ COMPENSATION. It is NOT called workers’ Return to Work nor No-medical-bills-for-amputees or anything else for that matter.

Here’s the dirty bottom line – All the current discussions about Return to Work – especially forcing RTW- have no place in workers’ compensation. In other words RTW (Return to Work) is bullsh*t.  And all ridiculously insulting cessation or capping of payments for medical and like services for permanently INJURED WORKERS is also bovine excrement.

Workers COMPENSATION and nothing else

Return to work bullshit

There, I said it. And I’ll repeat to make sure you understand: RTW is bullSHIT in the context of workers’ compensation.

Or as Bunny summarised it perfectly:

Originally Workers Compensation was set up for the injured worker. The whole idea was to stop injured workers suing negligent bosses and gaining huge punitive damages. The compromise was a no fault system where the needs of the injured worker were supposed to be addressed. Over the years, thanks to economic rationalism, the whole intent of Workers Comp has been changed to place the fault of injury back onto the worker and because people have been seduced by the ‘blame the victim’ propaganda promoted by most media outlets and certain political parties, we now have this ludicrous situation. Injured workers are not alone in this either, asylum seekers, those on welfare, the sick (how many sick people do you know who wait in doctor’s surgeries because it is fun- see $6 co payment issue) and of course the disabled (which also includes most injured workers). Add to this the continual denigration of unions (the only collective voice workers have), the rise of money hungry medico legal doctors, the involvement of multinational insurance companies, the distorted aim of getting Workers Comp schemes back into the black by reducing benefits to injured workers and worst of all the timid treatment handed out to negligent employers (rarely are they ever fined) and what we have is a system designed for business with no accountability. Yes, I know I am being political, but this is what is happening. Unless people get angry with those directly to blame for all of this (forget attacking each other, those on welfare, those less fortunate) then it will only get worse. Already I am aware of several cases in NSW where injured workers recovering from surgery are being forced back to work too early and have become even sicker

Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly some merit in RTW programmes – I’m not attacking that. The fact is that IF you can get the injured worker back to work faster then there are possibly great(er) benefits for both the injured worker and the employer.

But somewhere along the way in the world of risk management and workcover we got steered toward thinking that the end all, be all outcome for a workers’ compensation case is RTW.

It isn’t and neither you, the injured worker nor the “system”, nor anyone else can do anything about it. Period.


Because RTW requires two elements that do not necessarily and, in fact,  more often than not, typically don’t align:

…namely: an injured worker who WANTS to and CAN go back to work AND an employer who WANTS that injured worker back.

Both elements are necessary and they must occur simultaneously – there can be no RTW, UNLESS both elements are present at the same time.

We can not control the feelings of either the employer or the injured worker. We can not control why an injured worker may not want to work for a certain supervisor, boss or company. We can not control why an employer, a supervisor, or whomever makes the decision, does or does not want an injured employee any longer.

I am reminded of countless cases that I have heard involving injured workers, physically and/or psychologically injured.

Let’s take A’s case, he had all sorts of workcover issues, but most of all his issue was psychological (or perhaps psychiatric). Regardless, he felt that the people at his company were out to get him. And the management at that company felt that A was dangerous and didn’t want him around any longer lest he create an even greater risk.

While an extreme example, it is obvious that any attempt at an RTW program would be completely wasted on A.

I’m not saying that RTW programs are useless or don’t have a place in workers’ comp, but the conversations I’ve recently observed of focusing – almost solely- on the job of RTW are totally misplaced.

RTW is NOT the job of workers’ compensation.
Again, it is workers’ COMPENSATION. I don’t like the term “workers’ compensation” because it directs attention to money, but regardless, it does describe what the system really is all about when you really get down to it – money to workers for either medical treatment or just to give out money in some sort of organised (not necessarily logical) manner.

In the workcover industry they are supposed to have a singular job: provide medical treatment and money. Period.

Yep, RTW can reduce the money part of the equation, and maybe a part of the treatment equation. But RTW is a compensation reduction technique. It is not the end goal of the game. It is only one element in a complex equation that is used to determine what the allocation of resources will be.

In the end workcover’s job is /should all be about COMPENSATION. It is wealth redistribution on a basic scale, if you will.

Flog me. I’m fine with that. Then ask yourself how many times dedicated RTW programs have actually resulted in someone returning to work and staying there…. ?Also ask yourself how many times injured workers are forced (prematurely) in settings where the physical risk factors that led to injury have not been addressed by the employer, and who have, as a consequence – like me for example – suffered unimaginable worsening injuries? How many injured workers have their limitations honored by the employer- TELL ME!?

There’s a reason why the USA for example got rid of vocational rehabilitation, and then RTW bonuses/incentives and penalties tied to permanent impairment indemnity – because they don’t work.

I’d say use your RTW programmmes discriminatory. Subjecting everyone to that process is a waste of time and resources.

Flog me now…

All ridiculously insulting cessation or capping of payments for medical and like services for permanently INJURED WORKERS is bovine excrement.

No ongoing medical bills paid for amputees

In yet another example of the harsh impact the government’s workers compensation ‘reforms’ have had, workers who have sustained an injury that resulted in the amputation of a limb are having their cases dismissed as not “serious” enough to deserve ongoing payment of medical bills. Is this workers COMPENSATION?

Workers compensation changes again fail the test

David Shoebridge MLC Greens MP

In December 2013, after media exposure, the State Government was forced to admit that their changes to the workers compensation laws needed review and were forced to provide lifetime protection for one injured worker who lost his leg after an injury at work.  Finance Minister Andrew Constance further promised to personally investigate cases where people were being treated unfairly as a result of his government’s changes to the WorkCover scheme.

Minister Constance has now been presented with an almost identical case, but this time hasn’t intervened. Kris Carroll was forced to have his leg amputated after a workplace injury in 2005 and has now been informed that as of 31 December 2013 his claim to payments for medical expenses will be ceased. Again the reason is that his injury is not serious enough in the eyes of the government to grant him ongoing protection.

For Mr Carroll who is required to regularly replace his prosthesis, this is likely to cost him around $40,000 in medical expenses each year.

This is the same for many other injured workers who will be facing a tough start to the New Year thanks to the O’Farrell government’s decision to cut off payments for the medical expenses of thousands of injured workers on New Years day 2014.

Under controversial changes to the Workers Compensation Act that were made in 2012 injured workers are only entitled to receive payments for medical expenses related to their injury, such as doctors bills, the costs of surgery, prosthetics and medication for a maximum of 12 months after they last received weekly payments.  (or if they did not receive weekly payments then 12 months from the date of injury).

The only exception is when the worker has a “serious injury” as defined, this is an injury that is assessed at more than 30% WPI – and astoundingly amputations, such as Mr Passfield and Mr Carroll’s, are not.  They were both assessed at 28% WPI.

Greens MP and Industrial Relations spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“This is just another example of the NSW Goverment’s complete disregard for injured workers.

“If workers with their lower leg amputated are not considered seriously enough injured to get compensation then who is protected when they are injured at work in NSW?

“Kris’ case is proof positive that workers compensation laws in NSW have swung away from protecting workers to protecting employers by cutting premiums regardless of the cost on individual’s lives.

“These are seriously injured workers who deserve lifetime protection, and all the NSW Government can do is throw them on the scrap heap in the name of cost-cutting and budget savings.

“These aren’t isolated cases, there are thousands of people who are facing the same grim reality of being injured at work through no fault of their own, and now having all medical assistance withdrawn.

“No parliamentarian, no person of conscience, should let these laws go unchallenged.  They must be fixed to restore some balance in the compensation system,” Mr Shoebridge said.

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[Dictated and manually inserted on behalf of workcovervictim]


Revised May 2014

11 Responses to “Workers COMPENSATION and nothing else”

  1. I think you just follow the login in prompts aussie mick. As you have commented here it should not be that hard. Welcome to the nightmare as well, you will find lots of kind decent people here willing to help

    • thanks bunny i hope i can help others with support as we can become very isolated , and it is good to know your not on your own

    • Hi Bunny tried the login link and displays a message
      you dont have the permissions to entter this forum ?
      what permissions are needed and how do i get them
      as im not that computer savvy i have followed all the promps
      but keep ending up at the same message in the end , im confused is it an admin issue or am i not registering correctly.i have read the guidelines and followed directions but to no avail

      • @Aussie Mick and other folks who have fairly recently requested forum registration – we’re still processing requests and have been insanely delayed doing so because of our own admin health issues. Thanks for your patience and we hope to process outstanding requests over the weekend. (Registration with the forum is done manually and you will receive an email once registered)

        workcovervictim3 January 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm
  2. Aussie Mick, I really think that multinational insurance companies should be taken out of the system totally. Despite all the bureaucratic rubbish, governments can run a scheme like this better, imagine if Centrelink was run by Insurance companies. I know governments can be a real pain but at least if the government ran it we would have some avenues of appeal, we have none now.

    • I agree Bunny get rid of the insurance companies completely,
      but i think that the abbott government wants to scrap the whole system
      hense the attack on unions and workers rights , workcover will be gone and workers will have to take out there own income protection,and tpd insurances

    • Hi bunny as im new to this site can you tell me how do i login forum?
      i would like to talk with others that are going thru the serious injury process

  3. An excellent article WCV, you have expressed it better than I could, the overwhelming point are those key words Worker’s Compensation!!!!!!! No matter how many times people are deluded into thinking getting workers back to work is the reason for its existence, it is not, it is for compensating injured workers. We need to keep reminding everyone that is what it is. Those who can go back to work should be helped as well as compensated and those who can’t, should be compensated. No other explanation should be needed or accepted. And finally, those who have caused the injury should be punished, be it a fine or paying a higher premium.

    • Hi bunny your right about that workers compensation,but when insurance companies are involved the old delay and deny tactics begin as soon as you lodge a claim,
      and the employers play along with this delay and deny ,or they will have increased premiums, like most car insurance policies read , if in the event you are involved in a accident do not admit liability echange details and make no admissions.

  4. Very glad to see the increasing level of content aimed squarely at the source of the problem.

    Broad coverage of exactly this message is absolutely crucial, to let mum and dads, sons and daughters, people who usually avoid politics and causes, that their vote counts against the fraud insurance companies are silently pulling on every citizen in this country (though people usually only find out after years of being tortured by an unhelpful and unjust system, while they’re marginalised and forgotten by the rest of society)

  5. You have done brilliant work cyber nursing Lisa Instead of individual patients you help all the abused and those abandoned by workcover to know they are not alone, what to expect, pitfalls to watch out for and general advice. For a mostly one arm lady you punch above your weight and few people will realise the effort skill level and work you have gone to help others when you are in pain yourself. I admire you and your work Lisa.