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.
“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:
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.
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.
“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.
Watch video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE27Q7FlwCU
[Dictated and manually inserted on behalf of workcovervictim]
Revised May 2014