Tag Archives: workcover

rp_no-let-up-by-buss-boss.jpg

Bus driver refused workers comp for ‘failing to take adequate care for own safety’

THE boss of Swan Transit has refused to back down over his company’s allegation that bus driver Gerard Sin was to blame for the vicious attack in which he lost an eye.

The Sunday Times revealed last week that in papers lodged with the District Court to fight a compensation bid, the bus operator claimed the 62-year-old driver was at fault because he failed to take “adequate care for his own safety”.

The Thornlie bus driver is suing his employer for negligence after he was punched and pelted with a chunk of concrete as he drove the No.250 route in Armadale on July 31, 2009. He suffered serious facial injuries and was blinded in his left eye, requiring a prosthetic eye to be fitted.

This week, Swan Transit director Neil Smith stood by the defence put forward by his insurance lawyers accusing Mr Sin of provoking the youth who attacked him while on the job.

Mr Smith said the company had supported Mr Sin from “day one”, but he strongly rejected the lawsuit’s claim that Swan Transit was negligent or that compensation should be paid.

“The claim against us is stating that we are negligent,” Mr Smith said. “We are saying that we are not negligent that is the only thing going on in court.”

Mr Smith rejected suggestions that he had failed to provide for his employee or had treated him poorly, but he signalled that the court case could go to a full District Court trial.

“We have gone far beyond what our legal responsibilities are,” Mr Smith said.

“We have ensured that he has a full-time job, we have changed the work that he is doing; he is doing work at the present where that job is basically custom-built for him, and it is not something that we make money out of.

“We have created a position to give him support, and that is the purpose of workers’ compensation.”

A PerthNow poll this week, which asked the public whether Swan Transit should compensate Mr Sin, found that 93 per cent of the 4642 respondents said it should.

A mere 3 per cent said no, while another 3 per cent responded that it depended on the amount.

Asked whether he would allow the case to continue to a trial rather than attempt to settle the lawsuit out of court, Mr Smith replied: “There is a process in place and that process will run its course.”

He added: “The aim of workers’ compensation is not about payout it’s about getting people back into work.”

Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the lawsuit was a matter between Mr Sin, his employer, and the insurance company, and he would not comment on the merits of the case.

Opposition transport spokesman Ken Travers said the Government should intervene in Mr Sin’s case. He said transport operators should look after their employees.

“You can’t allow members of the community who are providing a public service to be injured at work, then have the Government walk away from their responsibilities because they have privatised the service,” he said.

[Source: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/no-let-up-by-bus-boss/story-e6frg143-1226268501002]

 

WorkCover SA found guilty for ceasing payments to a fraud-accused injured worker

A SA injured worker who was facing criminal charges for fraud (!)  has successfully appealed against a decision to discontinue her compensation payments. WorkCover SA had ceased the injured worker’s payments without any formal determination and alleging that the injured worker was not incapacitated and had been dishonest in the way she represented her disability! In fact the Tribunal ruled that WorkCover SA had breached the ACT. Again… music to our ears!

WorkCover SA found guilty for ceasing payments to a fraud-accused injured worker

The injured worker began receiving weekly compensation payments in 1996 after the onset of “tennis elbow” in her right arm.

WorkCover SA ceased her payments in November 2004 without any formal determination, and in March 2005 wrote a letter to her alleging she was not incapacitated and she had breached her obligation of mutuality by dishonestly representing the nature of her disability.

The worker disputed WorkCover’s determination, and in April 2005 the SA Workers Compensation Tribunal ruled that WorkCover’s actions breached the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986, ordering that it continue making weekly payments. WorkCover backpaid the worker compensation.

In separate action, the worker was charged in March 2005 with numerous breaches of fraud under s120 of the Act. She has pleaded not guilty and is yet to face trial.

In a hearing before the SA Workers Compensation Tribunal, Deputy President Stephen Lieschke found WorkCover’s notice of discontinuing weekly payments under s36 was irregular and void. This was because WorkCover stopped the payments before a determination was reached and then failed to make any payments after April 2005.

Deputy President Lieschke also rejected WorkCovers’ submission that if it couldn’t rely on s36, it could discontinue payments under s85, which allows the principles of equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case to over-ride any irregularities in the case.

He found that WorkCover acted outside the Act, in choosing not to bring the worker’s weekly payments up to date and issue a fresh notice under s36. He ruled that WorkCover couldn’t achieve its goals outside established procedures and principals, and that an allegation of dishonesty without a conviction does not preclude a worker from benefits under the Act.

He set aside WorkCover’s determination to cease weekly payments.

Trask v WorkCover Corporation/Mercantile Mutual Insurance (Le Cavalier Hotel) [2006] SAWCT 83 (2 November 2006)

Shows again how quickly workcover insurance companies will accuse us (injured workers) of committing “fraud” -without a leg to stand on- and cease our weekly payments without explanation(s).

It is our seriously injured opinion that more “fraud” and “abuse” is committed by workcover insurance companies than so called injured workers’ fraud.

 

[post entered on behalf of workcovervictim, who remains in too much pain]

Shortlink: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/?p=4396

 

Corrupt WorkCover employees may put workers’ lives at risk

We have been snooping around the net looking for “corruption” and discovered that the NSW Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) discovered that three former, corrupt, WorkCover NSW officers issued thousands of fake work licences and has recommended that the DPP consider prosecuting 18 people involved in their distribution.

Corrupt WorkCover employees may put workers’ lives at risk

ICAC also made 19 recommendations for WorkCover to improve its management and monitoring of the licensing system to minimise the opportunities for corrupt conduct in the future.

ICAC’s investigation found that 23 people engaged in corrupt conduct. These included three former WorkCover employees, 16 distributors of false certificates and four applicants for false licences.

It found that one senior licensing officer in the Licensing Unit had alone produced many hundreds of false certificates that her de facto husband actively distributed and sold throughout the construction and other industries, with the aid of others.

The Commission heard how demand for the false certificates had spread by word of mouth at pubs and on construction sites, creating a “snowballing effect” that resulted in a network of distributors and many hundreds of recipients.

ICAC recommended that the DPP consider prosecuting two of the former WorkCover employees and the 16 people who distributed the licences.

It said in its report that bypassing and/or abusing the OHS regulatory system, as the false issuing of certificates of competency threatened to do, “had the potential to cause enormous damage to workers, to the projects they were working on and to the general public”.

WorkCover system is deficient

ICAC also examined the adequacy of WorkCover’s management practices and the systems associated with issuing the certificates (and BTW we are sure these are not the only “bad practices”).

It found a number of deficiencies, including sharing of log-on details and passwords; lack of supervision and control in approving and printing certificates; and lack of reconciliation between certificates issued and application fees received.

It made 19 recommendations to WorkCover to prevent further corruption, including that it:

  • develop an audit mechanism and regime to detect excessive multiple mail-outs to single addresses and ensure that its record-keeping procedures minimise the number of missing and misfiled documents;
  • introduce an automatic expiry of password and identification function for temporary employees;
  • implement a two-person approval process for changes to licence holders’ details;
  • implement as a matter of priority processes to enable the application fees received for certificates of competency to be reconciled against the numbers of certificates issued;
  • develop and implement a Conflicts of Interest Policy and provide regular training in conflicts of interest for all employees;
  • conduct regular assessments of the risks of fraudulent conduct in the Licensing Unit, and amend its fraud risk management plan in line with these findings; and
  • develop as a matter of priority a fraud and corruption control plan.
How it all started

WorkCover first became aware of anomalies in the issuing of certificates by one employee in the first half of 2004, and reported it to ICAC.

In a separate incident in July 2004, following a request from a certificate holder to have his name corrected, WorkCover discovered that many certificates had been issued in a name that didn’t correspond with any employee.

WorkCover announced an amnesty in 2004 to allow workers who had obtained false certificates to come forward.

It then announced inspectors would visit construction and other sites in a compliance program to crack down on the fraudulent certificates.

This was the second ICAC inquiry to find that fraudulent certificates had been issued.

Report on investigation into safety certification and the operations of the WorkCover NSW Licensing Unit

go and report some corruption

You can report corruption via the ICAC’s website and perhaps it is time for us -injured workers – to start reporting everything that smells!

WorkCover and Safety news around Australia update

Some of us, injured authors,  have been sleepless from the pain and have trolled the net at ungodly hours and summarised all recent WorkCover and safety news from around Australia, for your convenience…

WorkCover and Safety news around Australia update

 

WorkCover NSW is holding three free harmonisation webinars on consultation, managing risks and hazardous work over the next few weeks.

WorkSafe ACT has published an information sheet on the role of health and safety representatives under harmonised OHS laws. It includes a list of WorkSafe-approved HSR training courses and information for training providers.

 

WorkSafe Vic: Vic employer fined for withholding documents after safety concerns raised

A Victorian importer and supplier of agricultural equipment has been fined for failing to provide sales receipts and other requested documents to a WorkSafe inspector.
The WorkSafe Vic inspector visited Agricat Australia Pty Ltd’s premises in April 2004 and found that three models of tractors it supplied “displayed potential non-compliance with the OHS Act”.
Agricat’s director was then instructed – under s100 of the State Act – to produce the sales receipts, invoices and delivery dockets for all relevant tractors supplied over the previous six months, as well as data sheets and static and dynamic testing reports.
When the WorkSafe inspector returned to the site two weeks later, the director provided a 13-page report on the tractors, but refused to produce the receipts, invoices and dockets.
The employer pleaded guilty to breaching the Act, and was fined $3500 without conviction in the Magistrates Court.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has created an interactive virtual factory to help employers in the metal manufacturing industry reduce injuries by improving workplace layout and design.

The Queensland Mines Inspectorate has published its December 2011 serious accidents and high potential incidents report. It shows there were 47 incidents in the mining and quarrying sector where vehicles lost control, and that a worker was nearly struck by a 100kg lump of falling coal.

The Queensland Electrical Safety Office has warned that generators – commonly used in flood-affected areas – can cause fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution if manufacturers’ instructions are not followed.

Comcare has updated its pharmacy policy to clarify injured workers’ entitlements under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and to ensure that medicines that can be misused – such as benzodiazepines and opiates – are safely prescribed.

The Commonwealth regulator has also issued a safety alert on the risks associated with rigid hull inflatable boats. Former Liberal Senator Nick Minchin’s son was apparently seriously injured while riding in one of these vessels in 2010. Amazing that something gets done about safety when a high ranking dude gets hurt!

The NSW Independent Transport Safety Regulator has released its 28th quarterly report on the implementation of recommendations made by the inquiry into the 2003 Waterfall train crash, which killed seven people. As with the previous report, two of the 177 recommendations remain open, it says.

And WorkSafe WA has published a bulletin on the dangers of unguarded wool presses.

 

FEDERAL MPs have today voted to abolish the Life Gold Pass retirement perk for all future politicians in return for a $44,000 pay rise for backbenchers.

The package also scraps the first-class round-the-world overseas study junket for serving MPs and will for the first time provide workers’ compensation cover for MPs.

Politicians are likely to receive their pay rise in the next two months. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s pay will increase by $114,634 to $481,000 and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gets an extra $81,566 to $342,250.

For the first time, Mr Abbott’s shadow ministers will get an extra 20 or 25 per cent, giving them a pay rise of up to $90,000.

Read article in the Herald Sun

 

Anything else we’ve missed and not published elsewhere? Let us know!

WorkCover SA employee dismissed for revealing injured worker’s identity

Time for something a bit more positive: A SA WorkCover employee who revealed confidential information about an injured worker was dismissed, despite his claims that the disclosure was in the course of his work duties. However, the injured worker had to involve his local MP, who then prompted a second investigation by WorkCover’s Fraud Unit. This case is music to our ears, guys!

The AIRC was told that the WorkCover employee provided details about an injured worker to another employee whose claim he was also handling at the time. While he did not identify the worker, the second employee was able to guess who the officer was referring to because of the unique details he provided.

WorkCover SA officer dismissed for revealing injured worker’s identity

The injured worker complained to WorkCover about the officer’s confidentiality breach and it conducted an inquiry into the matter. The Corporation -of course (!) – subsequently cleared the officer of any wrongdoing, finding that he had acted in accordance with his work duties.

However, the worker then contacted his local MP, which prompted a second investigation by WorkCover’s Fraud Unit. This time, it found that the officer had breached the legislative requirements regarding confidentiality under s112 of SA’s Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

It also said the disclosure of sensitive details of the injured worker’s case breached WorkCover’s own privacy policy. The officer’s employment was terminated several weeks later. Yeah!

The workcover employee claimed his dismissal was unfair because the details he revealed about the worker’s case were relevant to the second employee’s job opportunities and were not personal.

While conceding that he should not have revealed certain details of the worker’s injury and his compensation claim, the officer maintained he had not breached any legislative provisions regarding confidentiality.

Ironically, he sought reinstatement to his former position but said he would need to return to work on restricted duties due to an incapacity he had developed since the dismissal.

WorkCover argued that, even if the officer had not breached s112, his disclosure of confidential information to another claimant still constituted serious and wilful misconduct that warranted the termination of his employment.

Senior Deputy President Matthew O’Callaghan accepted that an alleged breach of s112 was a criminal matter and that WorkCover was “entitled and obliged to treat the issue of confidentiality seriously”.

He found that the officer, along with all other WorkCover employees, knew of the Corporation’s policy on privacy and had received training about confidentiality issues and the consequences of breaching the provisions.

Senior Deputy President O’Callaghan declined to make a finding on whether the officer breached the legislative requirements of the Act, saying WorkCover had dismissed him only for serious misconduct in breaching its confidentiality policy.

He found that the officer’s statements to the second worker constituted “a breach of confidentiality requirements that are fundamental to the WorkCover function and to the equitable treatment of injured workers”.

The second investigation by WorkCover’s Fraud Unit was “credible” even though it should have been conducted properly the first time, he said, and identified a valid reason for the officer’s termination.

While Senior Deputy President O’Callaghan didn’t accept that the officer’s conduct was “wilful” because he did not intent to deliberately reveal the injured worker’s identity, he found it certainly constituted serious misconduct.

He rejected the officer’s unfair dismissal claim.

Thomas Potter v WorkCover Corporation. PR944320 (9 March 2004)

 

We believe that the confidential and privacy laws apply to Victoria as well, so if your case manager has been leaking private details about you, you do have a case and should be able to get him/her sacked and on Centrelink.

 

Shortlink: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/?p=4406

 

WorkCover rise in premiums increases funeral costs

Victorians may be forced to pay significantly more for funerals because of changes to the industry’s WorkCover premiums. The State Government has put funeral home staff and cemetery workers into the same category. Previously when they were classified separately, funeral home staff attracted a lower WorkCover premium than cemetery workers because their work was less risky.

WorkCover rise in premiums increases funeral costs

“Funeral directors drive hearses, we don’t drive backhoes, we don’t work outside, we work inside,” said funeral home director Mark Osborne.

“While we work in the same industry, to say we do the same job is flawed.”

The old WorkCover premium rate for funeral home staff was 1.79 per cent and cemetery staff 3.446 per cent.

The new rate for both job classifications is 2.95 per cent.

The Australian Funeral Directors Association says the cost will have to be passed on to customers.

“The worst part is these bereaved families are going to see an increase in funeral prices because of a 60 per cent increase applied to funeral directors,” Mr Osborne said.

In Victoria, the only body allowed to operate cemeteries and crematoriums is State Government.

Mr Osborne says while funeral homes will have to pay more, the WorkCover rate the Government pays for its higher-risk cemetery staff will drop by 15 per cent.

“The circumstance across all industry sectors is that there is that sort of grouping where some with better performance are grouped those with lesser performance,” he said.

He says the changes were based on a system developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) that groups industries that are similar.

“It is based on the fact of the industry size and the types of the activity undertaken in that area,” he said.

“The ABS view is that is the best mix, the best way to structure them.”

The Australian Funeral Directors Association has complained to the Productivity Commission about the changes.

[Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-09/funeral-costs-set-to-rise-over-premium-increase/3819618/?site=melbourne]

Related News Article

Tax rise to hit the cost of funerals

GRIEVING families will be charged up to $150 more for funerals, the industry has warned, after a Baillieu government move to increase WorkCover premiums.

Funeral directors have slammed the government over its lack of consultation and expressed shock at the move, which will raise premiums by more than 50 per cent
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/tax-rise-to-hit-the-cost-of-funerals-20120208-1rety.html

WorkCover premiums rise

We can’t help but wonder whether some bizarre reported work injuries are responsible for the rise in premiums….?

click to view on Twitter

[Sourced by our loyalest contributor “None” with a big thank you 😉 ]

 

 

Safe Work Australia and Comcare credit card misuse revealed

Burecaucrats employed by one federal department misused their corporate credit cards 172 times over 26 months, the government has admitted. According to a report by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, there were a further 16 instances of card misuse across its portfolio agencies, including Comcare, Safe Work Australia and the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

 Safe Work Australia and Comcare credit card misuse revealed

In a written response to a question tabled at Senate estimates, the department detailed instances of when staff used their corporate credit card instead of a personal one between July 2009 and last September.

In 68 cases, funds were found to have been withdrawn inappropriately, and in 79 cases spending by employees was explicitly rejected by their superiors.

A department spokesman played down the significance of the misuse.

“The total number of instances of corporate credit card misuse represents a tiny fraction of all claims and converts to less than three per 100 cards issued,” the department spokesman said.

“Repayments are made quickly and misuse commonly involves accidental charges of very low value.” (yeah…accidental…!)

An estimated 4120 cards were issued to the department’s employees, 159 to ABCC staff and 638 to employees of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

There were nine instances of misuse at Comcare, five at the ABCC and one each at Safe Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Asked what action was taken if a card was misused, the department said the employee was initially “reminded” of the requirements of department policy.

Depending on the nature of the misuse, the matter could result in a code of conduct probe or fraud investigation.

In all cases, full reimbursement was sought, it said.

The department did not say if the misuse had resulted in any fraud investigation.

[Source: The Australian – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bureaucrats-credit-card-misuse-revealed/story-fn59niix-1226265189104]

 

Unions urge action on workcover victoria budget

Unions have called on employer groups to speak out against a move by the Victorian government that they say could jeopardise workplace safety and increase WorkCover premiums. Australian Workers Union (AWU) Victorian secretary Cesar Melhem said groups representing employers agreed with him that the proposal to divert WorkCover funds into general revenue was outrageous.

Unions urge action on workcover victoria budget

“They are saying one thing to me in private, but keeping their mouths shut in public because they don’t want to rock the Baillieu government boat,” Mr Melhem said.

“They should be standing up for their members, and their members should be demanding that they do.”

Earlier this month, the head of Victoria’s workplace safety authority Greg Tweedly resigned after the government announced it would strip $470 million from its budget over four years and channel it into general revenue.

“At a time when we are seeing increasing pressure on Victorian employers as a result of the high Australian dollar, I would have thought this government would be looking for ways to support jobs, not raiding WorkCover,” Mr Melhem said.

He said the AWU’s primary concern was for workplace safety and fair compensation for injured workers.

“We want the safety system to be properly resourced, and injured workers to be properly compensated – that’s what WorkCover premiums are for,” Mr Melhem said.

 

[Source: 9News]

WorkCover NSW CEO resigns, WorkCover reforms fast tracked

Minister for Finance & Services, Greg Pearce, today said that the Government will fast track urgent reforms needed in WorkCover and the Compensation Authorities after receiving the resignations of the Chairman, Greg McCarthy and CEO Lisa Hunt.

WorkCover NSW resignations and WorkCover reforms fast tracked

Ms Hunt

“I have made it clear that the WorkCover scheme in its current form is untenable – the deficit is growing and WorkCover must be reformed to get it back in the black,” Mr Pearce said.
“Both Mr McCarthy and Ms Hunt agreed there was a need to reform WorkCover and the government will now move to press ahead with the reforms under a new leadership team,” he said.
“The reforms will be fast-tracked with Deputy Chair, Nicholas Whitlam, acting as Chair and current Chief Financial Officer, Julie Newman, acting as CEO until replacements are appointed.
“One of the possible reform options, developed by Mr McCarthy, includes merging WorkCover and the four other compensation authorities – the Motor Accidents Authority, Dust and Diseases Tribunal, Sporting Injuries Committee and Lifetime Care and Support Authority to achieve savings.
“It is clear we are only in the position we are in today because the previous Labor failed to institute these vital reforms despite the warnings of Mr McCarthy and others.

Mr McCarthy

“I thank Mr McCarthy and Ms Hunt for their tireless work following their independent decisions to step down.
Mr McCarthy has been a dedicated member of the Board of WorkCover since 2002, including the position of Chair since 2005, and was in the process of developing the reforms to turn the scheme around.
“His commitment to get the best out of the board and the organisation he chaired is to be commended but he has advised me that he believed it was time for a fresh approach.
“Ms Hunt has been CEO since 2010 and was instrumental in driving change in the workplace including the implementation of the new Work, Health and Safety regime.
“I thank Ms Hunt for her dedication to her role and wish her all the best in her future endeavours,” Mr Pearce said.

——————————-

Good riddance to her, she did nothing to advance the rights of injured workers.
Read between the lines on the press release. Seem like two people were pushed.
It is my opinion that Ms Hunt was largely ineffective as CEO. She just let the agency drift along directionless.
She made grand announcements when she joined 2 years ago, achieving nothing of that.

[source: http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/newsroom/Ministerial%20Media%20releases/030212_pearce_%20workcover_reforms_fast-tracked.pdf]

Article sourced and commented upon by our loyal reader and contributor “None”, again with a big thank you 😉

 

Serious injury application cases may be heard much quicker now

Whilst we’ve been talking about “serious injuries“…Earlier this year, the County Court of Victoria had announced that it proposes to implement Judicial Settlement Conferences in serious injury cases from 2012. Two pilot programmes of these judicial settlement conferences have been conducted by the Court, however with mixed results.

These conferences were (are) informal, but held in a court room with the assistance of a County Court Judge. The Judge then encourages the parties to discuss all issues pertinent to the case to see whether it can be resolved made and a decision can be (Serious Injury Certificate granted) . Early resolution of as many cases as possible would, of course, help free up the Court to hear cases that must be determined by a Judge. At the moment there is significant delay (about 12 months) in getting a date for Serious Injury Applications to be heard , and so it is hoped that these judicial settlement conferences will or would reduce these delays.

Serious Injury application cases may now be hear quicker

The County Court has recently announced that it hopes to be in a position to reduce the current lengthily 12 month (one year) wait time for cases for Serious Injury Applications to be heard.

The above initiatives – such as Judge led conferences and an increase in the number of Judges available to hear cases are expected to be introduced in 2012 and to result in earlier hearing dates being allocated to Serious Injury applications. It is now hoped that these matters will be heard within 3 months, or -at least- within 6 months of issuing.

If true, this would of course be a greatly appreciated and most positive ‘move’ by the Victorian County Court.

As you may know, the Serious Injury Application process is an extremely important and essential getaway that many injured workers must go through AND pass before they can proceed with a Common Law damages claim for pain and suffering and/or economic loss.

There are two ways in which a seriously injured worker can obtain the required “serious injury status”:

  1. Physical impairment assessment (workcover “independent assessor” and/or Medical Panel): this is a “scientific” test which is “objective”. However you must achieve a total body impairment percentage of 30% or more to qualify.
  2. The serious injury ‘test’, which involves a very difficult process to prove that your injury/injuries are ‘more serious’ than ‘the norm’; and this involves a very subjective assessment of course (both by the defense and by your lawyers and medical ‘experts’).