May 08

Q&A: Injured workers share their stories

Recently we asked a group of injured workers to answer a series of questions about life on workers compensation in NSW and the impact it has had on their life.  We are now receiving some really insightful but disturbing responses.

We urge other injured workers to tell us their stories by answering the same questions – anonymity is assured. You can forward your replies to john.mcphilbin@injuredworkerssupport.org.au

Here’s what one injured worker had to say:

1: Briefly describe life before being injured

I was a professional, a high achiever, resourceful, visionary, an advocate, I was passionate, friendly, outgoing, a people person, I enjoyed my work, my social life, sitting by the river listen to an impromptu band and eating oysters, bushwalking, going to the gym, enjoying friends, enjoying and being part of family, walking, exploring, walking around rocks and sitting by the ocean …. Somewhat free I guess.

2: How and when did your injury occur?

I had three injuries in total, one in which I was burnt and one in which I was assaulted twice. Both of which I returned to work within a week performing full duties. The last incident was after our funding had been slashed and we, in a short time had to transition from a program that provided specialist holistic therapeutic care to one of containment only. Instead of one on one care it became one to two care. It was a disaster, one of complete chaos for both young people and staff. A lot of staff went down, in the 11th hour. Nobody saw it coming. It wasn’t just residential care that was cut, it was key programs, and it’s in every system including work cover.

There was an occurrence during this process that brought about feeling in me that I was a passive abuser. This occurrence consisted of the positive holistic care of one young person, then the transfer of a younger client late one night, into the containment program… it immediately broke down, with both young people who suffer from complex trauma e.g. an inability to self regulate their emotions, inability to cope with change, attachment disorder, dissociative disorder, violent tendencies, poor social/life skills, self harm issues and mental health issues. You can imagine the outcome.. Both children were permanently hyper aroused, violent, there’s more, but I don’t want to talk about it. That one really hit me… I felt morally and ethically deficient. These children were removed from their homes because of abuse.. And we were standing by watching them assault each other, violent attacks, self harm; the only way to keep them safe was to lock them in their rooms … it was too much.  I called they helpline in order to redeem myself. Lot of good that did, they were slashed too.

The last incident involved a young person chroming and spraying me in the face, fighting me. I retreated to the office and he kept trying to pull the screen door off. I ran away as soon as change over occurred.

3: How has your injury impacted on your life? (Mentally, physically, socially)

Mentally I was shattered… 24 years of my life gone in a heartbeat.. Nothing left but a shroud lying amongst the rubble that was my life. It has been a challenging and confronting journey in facing that loss of self. I experienced anxiety so intense that I would sit in the corner of my lounge room and hide or pace aimlessly for hours, loosing time, I still do that.. I have improved though, mainly due to medication… Valium in particular as it reduces my anxiety and lowers my blood pressure. I still can’t go into crowded places or drive and I’m sick of being afraid of shadows, night mares and fear.

Physically it has taken its toll. I have PTSD one of the symptoms of which is stress induced hypertension, which is not controlled by normal medication; Stress causes my adrenaline glands to over produce adrenaline which causes the hypertension.

Whilst I am medicated I have been using herbal and alternate therapies due to my immune system crashing, these treatments have helped me.

Socially – well there is no social me any more.. when I look at this question I see a Huge abyss between the old me and the NOW me  … I do not have a life … I have cut myself from many people … and my family. I haven’t  found the bridge for that gap yet.

4: Describe the treatment you have received from your employer and insurer?

Where do I begin, I’ll start with my employer, they have been nothing but supportive toward me. The Hr manager called me every week and they accept total liability for my injury.

My insurer .. Initially they were good … then I initiated a goal which consisted of me transferring my holistic skills to healing.. They were all for it. They passed it up to the powers that be and it was passed back down as they had not followed process.  I was seeing cardiologists and other specialists at this time. My Dr was trying to find a physical cause for my hypertension which was not responding to medication and my blood pressure was erratic. Still is.

I was supposed to go into mental health clinic for treatment of PTSD which included a symptom of PTSD, this being hypertension.  My insurer served me with a section 74 refusing treatment and denying liability for my hypertension that was 8 mths ago… The ironic bit is I had never made a claim to them for the hypertension.. Nor did I have the test results.. I ended up on and am now addicted too valium as a result and have been since August 2012. I’m still waiting for more section 74’s which my insurer has failed to provide.

In February we went before the arbitrator … at which time they, the insurer failed to produce any documents. Even though authorised they failed to obtain any information such as test results, reports etc.  The only report they tabled had me working in childcare.. That picture puts a different take on my story… the report did though support treatment. Needless to say it was farcical; agreements were made and not kept. The Arbitrator had no option other than to dismiss the case and send it through to WIRO. My solicitor is in charge of that process.

It’s a difficult journey, It’s like they, the insurer, pick pieces from varies reports and legislation, to use to their advantage in regards to saving money.. And appear to want to starve me out, hence why they neglect to increase my payment and questioned where I had received $10.000 from. It was none of their business, my recourses are just that, my resource called family, they loaned money so I could get all my regular payments in advance, to buffer the impact.

Now their stopping my counselling based on a report that wasn’t tabled before the arbitrator as it criticised them but did recommend that I be transitioned to Medicare for my counselling sessions (give it to the tax payer). Which I can’t afford as I have not as of yet being put up to the new rate and have only been receiving $419 per fortnight… I had to cancel my health insurance as I could no longer afford it. Now I need to go to the dentist … I’m poor

I held resentment toward them, the staff of the insurer, for a while, but it’s not their individual fault. They are victims of funding cuts also, they have become dehumanised and are buffered from the reality and have no idea like the rest of us as too what’s  going on… one minute it’s this way then the Supreme Court overrules… it’s a battle field and we, the consumers are the victims…  It’s humiliating, soul destroying, I feel like a criminal. No I think they are better off, they have civil rights.

5: What is your life now?

Like I’m a mouse in a wheel, running fast but going no where.

6: What is your opinion of the work cover system?

I think it’s a failure that will cost the tax payer… It has no workable structure, it doesn’t have a client focused case management system, it has pathways that lead to dead ends and people who have no idea what’s happening, and it’s a system that’s waiting to collapse in on its self. It’s brutal.

7: How have the changes in the laws affected you?

They have impacted upon me hugely.. I’m caught between two systems due to the Supreme Court rulings, the old and the new. This is due to my injury taking place prior to the changes being implemented in June. Although I did not benefit as others did with payment increases when the changes were implemented. They appear to be selective about where we fit. I’m caught in the middle. Sometimes it’s overwhelming… frightening really as it really highlights the ineptness of the changes that were introduced with ought thought of consequences… the same as other sectors.

In truth, I no longer have faith in our systems or government, in any of it. Sometimes I feel that conversing with possums in Tasmania would be more beneficial to me than trying to make sense of this system. I truly find it difficult to fathom the labyrinth of bureaucratic dead ends they, the bureaucrats have created. If it wasn’t real I think I would laugh and think who would be so stupid… I guess it takes a special kind of stupid to make the tangled web that I’m trapped in.

8: what needs to change?

Our laws need to become more proactive and less rigid… they need a human face and be flexible to change and grow in a positive manner … we are a global society.. In order to be functional, systems need a solid corner stone’s as their foundation and to be flexible in their structure in order to serve the people, after all we do pay their wages. In order to achieve positive outcomes, they need to be human and have a human face.

In truth everything needs to change and I think that’s happening now, globally. Whether we as a society collapse under the weight of the rubble of failed systems … or we change direction, unite and grow. I don’t know.. Can WE do it .. As individuals yes.. As a collective mind yes.. As a united supported front, YES.

But alas the powers that be are not driven by conscience, morals, ethics or values… they are driven by money and their too blinded by greed in the name of economy, to see that what they are doing will ultimately cost them more than they saved.

They only see the macro not the micro and they are not capable of seeing it in its entirety. It’s a bit like seeing the crescent of the moon as opposed to seeing the whole of the moon.

May 07

Threats, intimidation and Grocon’s poor safety record

grollo-729-620x349True to form, a person with a conscience speaks out on safety issues and then magically leaves his employment.

Leaked emails a bad look for Grocon

Builder Grocon’s safety record has been attacked by a senior executive of one of Australia’s biggest developers.

Leaked emails between senior executives at property developer Mirvac and Grocon reveal there were serious concerns through 2012 and 2011 about Grocon’s work on a $200 million Docklands apartment project known as Tower 8.

The leaked emails will again place the spotlight on Grocon’s safety record. It has come under scrutiny after the deaths in March of three pedestrians who were walking past Grocon’s CUB site in Swanston Street when a wall collapsed on them.

Grocon’s work as a builder on Mirvac’s Tower 8 project was subject to complaints made by Mirvac’s then project manager, Dominic McCarthy, about poor safety practices and intimidation.

In an email last July to Grocon executive Frank Bortoletto and six others, Mr McCarthy wrote: ”Grocon have little regards for the safety of its workers and that of others and that your site management are too intimidated to act accordingly.

”The breeches [sic] were evident and your management chose to deliberately and belligerently act in an irresponsible manner.”

There is also a formal 2011 letter on Mirvac letterhead from Mr McCarthy to Grocon that warns Grocon to follow directions.

”In addition, Grocon employees are reminded to refrain from behaving or engaging in a threatening or abusive manner and not to intimidate, harass or verbally abuse any site personnel including Mirvac site management staff.”

Mr McCarthy declined to comment when contacted, while a Grocon spokesman, Michael Zorbas, rejected claims of poor safety.

”We understand the individual responsible for those emails is no longer with Mirvac and his views are inconsistent with the good relationship Grocon has with Mirvac,” he said. ”As for his claims, they had no substance and no breach notices were issued by any regulator.”

But leaked documents show that Mirvac issued its own safety notice to Grocon over the unloading of precast panels.

In one dated August 10, 2012, it outlined four corrective actions for Grocon to take including to investigate why the breaches occurred and ”what measure will be implemented to prevent further breaches from occurring”.

In an email that Mr McCarthy wrote a month earlier, he said he would issue Grocon with two notices due to its ”total disregard for safety” and that it would be stopped from unloading precast panels until it improved.

A Mirvac spokeswoman said the project had been ”subject of some commercial tension” but that ”all disagreements were subsequently resolved and there are no ongoing issues.”

Last week, thousands of building workers brought the northern end of Melbourne’s CBD to a standstill in a protest organised by unions against Grocon’s safety record and WorkSafe’s response.

WorkSafe Victoria has refused requests from Fairfax Media to release information on how Grocon’s safety record compares to other big builders and in a statement  said it ”does not release information on individual businesses.”

The regulator said over the past five years it had identified 34,105 health and safety breaches in the construction sector as a whole and that visits from its inspectors to construction sites made up nearly a third of its total visits.

WorkSafe, after a freedom of information request, recently released to Fairfax Media reports detailing a number of safety breaches on Grocon sites. They include a five-kilogram piece of concrete plummeting eight levels onto Lonsdale Street and steel falling from a crane that smashed windows in the Myer and David Jones stores in Little Bourke Street and damaged a glass canopy over the footpath outside Myer.

May 06

Comcare set to sideline agencies

BILL SHORTEN WORKPLACE BULLYING PRESSER

Comcare set to sideline agencies

Commonwealth government departments could be sidelined from managing public servants on workers’ compensation in a massive overhaul of the Comcare scheme announced on Thursday.

The federal workplace insurer will have powers to take over injury management from public service bosses in sweeping reforms that will also see big changes to the laws governing psychological injuries.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten also said he would establish a national framework for rehabilitation aimed at putting the focus on returning to work rather than compensation.

Comcare’s chief executive welcomed the minister’s announcement and the main public sector union, the CPSU, was broadly positive – although it cautioned against changes that might reduce injured workers’ entitlements.

The minister said he would prioritise 21 of the 147 recommendations of a review of Comcare and its legislative framework by Melbourne barrister Peter Hanks and former Defence Department boss Allan Hawke.

Among “priority recommendations” were changes to the legal landscape on mental injuries and bullying. The definition of “reasonable administrative action”, the subject of much legal wrangling in bullying cases, will be clarified to give clearer guidelines on dealing with troubled employees. Legislative changes will also be made so that claims for mental injuries resulting from an employee’s perception of their treatment will not be paid out unless they have a basis in reality.

“The government’s priority is to improve Comcare’s early engagement of injured workers and the effective provision of rehabilitation by employers,” Mr Shorten said.

“The government will require Comcare to be more vigilant with assessing mental injury claim. This will better protect the Commonwealth, and therefore taxpayers, and make sure mental injury claims are actually linked to employment.”

Comcare chief executive Paul O’Connor said powers to step into a compensation case to rehabilitate a worker were “protection” rather than making Comcare a “first responder”.

“We don’t want anyone to be left behind because their employer can’t or won’t get in and do it,” he said.

“If there’s an employer who doesn’t get the rehabilitation and return-to-work message, these stronger regulatory powers means we can step in and do something about it. We can hold that employer to account.”

Mr O’Connor said he was excited that the minister had asked Comcare to take the lead in developing a national rehabilitation framework.

He said he would work with medical groups, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, to end reliance on “prescribing time off work”.

“We need to change attitudes and practices because it is the building block: get this right and we’ll start to reap benefits.”

CPSU national general secretary Nadine Flood welcomed the minister’s announcement but said her union would oppose changes that diminished entitlements.

“These proposed changes are a welcome addition to the Comcare scheme and provide an improved framework for both workers and employers, and a clear pathway to getting people back to work. These are positive changes that are of benefit to our members, and as such we welcome them, but there are many more recommendations that were made in the Hanks review and we would oppose any that reduce a worker’s entitlement.”

May 06

No justice for James: Mother takes a stand in May Day rally

Christine-Cantrill-150x150

Taking a stand in May Day rally

Christine Cantrill, whose son James Cantrill was badly hurt in a car accident while travelling to work last year, walked with her family alongside a truck carrying her son’s badly-damaged vehicle.

Mr Cantrill was one of the first people in NSW to be denied workers’ compensation under changes to the law.

Mrs Cantrill said it was important for people to know how these changes affected all workers, not just her son.

“Most people are not aware that they’re now not covered going and coming home from work,” she said.

GALLERY: May Day rally

“The government has not let people know.”

Mrs Cantrill said deciding to participate in the rally was not easy.

“We’ve never been involved in any type of protest before, but I’m not a fence sitter,” she said.

Mrs Cantrill said changes to workers compensation laws would not affect city workers as much as country people who are forced to travel further distances in more dangerous conditions.

Orange Regional Gallery director Alan Sisley said his fears about state government cuts were not confined to the arts sector, although he listed cuts to art teachers at Orange TAFE as one of his bugbears.

In an address to protesters before the rally kicked off, Mr Sisley acknowledged the arts was not the only sector at risk of further cuts.

VIDEO: Protesters rally against government for May Day march

“We feel very strongly that the way the government is operating things at the moment is essentially unreasonable,” Mr Sisley said.

“They seem so far removed from issues affecting rural life they may as well be based in America, not Sydney.”

Mr Sisley said the protesters were reasonable people loudly voicing their displeasure at government budget cuts.

May Day march organiser and Central West Community Union Alliance member Joe Maric said the protest proved a good opportunity for the community to air their grievances about a range of topics.

“It lets people know what’s going on and reminds people what the Labor movement has achieved over the years since the first May Day rally was held in Queensland in 1856,” he said.

“We need to work towards building the May Day rally into something significant in the f uture.”

May 03

Modest gains for injured workers at risk: Shoebridge

Media Release: Modest gains for injured workers at risk

In answers to questions in Parliament this week, the NSW Finance Minister refused to rule out stripping back lump sum workers compensation benefits by legislating to overturn a recent Court of Appeal decision that allowed those workers who were injured before the government’s 2012 reforms to retain their existing lump sum benefits

Greens MP, David Shoebridge, said:

“The recent Goudappel decision of the Court of Appeal means that a small number of injured workers in NSW will retain some of the workers compensation benefits that were stripped back with the O’Farrell Government’s 2012 compensation reforms.

“In answer to a question I put to the Finance Minister in the NSW Upper House he refused to rule out further retrospective amendments to overturn the Goudappel decision.

“There have been some suggestions that the cost of the Goudappel decision would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but this seems a very inflated cost given it is mainly limited to those workers who were injured before June 2012 and have not already claimed lump sum benefits.

“The Greens are calling on the Government to guarantee that they will not use more retrospective legislation to wind back the small gain made by injured workers as a result of this case.

“These benefits are not excessive, or even particularly generous, but they can mean that injured people are given some small recompense for the injury and loss they have suffered.

“The Government should not have tried to make this legislation retrospective in the first place, and the courts have recognised the fundamental unfairness retrospectivity creates,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Full text of the Question and Response as follows: 

WORKERS COMPENSATION

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services. In light of the decision in Goudappel v ADCO Constructions Pty Ltd that allows a very limited class of injured workers to retain some existing benefits, will the Minister undertake not to wind back by legislative amendment this very small gain for injured workers?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: The member is almost accurate as to the case referred to in his question.

The Hon. Penny Sharpe: Stop debating the question.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I like debating the question, particularly when it is a question from David Shoebridge.

The Hon. Penny Sharpe: You are not allowed to debate the question.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Because I then get some idiot from your side to take a point of order and I can sit down and have a rest.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Point of order: The Minister obviously cannot debate the question. My other point is that he should not call the person who takes a point of order an idiot. I ask him to withdraw. I take offence.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I did not hear him use that word.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: I heard him.

The PRESIDENT: Order! It is contrary to the standing orders for a Minister to debate a question, but it is not contrary to the standing orders for a Minister to canvass the subject matter of the question. I believe the Minister’s answer was more tending towards the latter. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Thank you. I am pleased to be able to talk about our WorkCover reforms because the Government’s changes have produced a fairer system and provided more generous payouts to severely injured workers as well as incentives for businesses to improve workplace safety. They are the key things about a workplace safety scheme. As I indicated earlier, the Government’s actions to fix WorkCover will mean that no employer will receive a base increase in 2013 and businesses will save on average 7.5 per cent on premiums. Those opposite hate hearing that. Our reforms mean better care for injured workers, lower premiums and the protection of jobs. Employers across 364 industries have improved safety performance in the workplace.

Mr David Shoebridge: Point of order: The question very specifically asked about a retrospective amendment to take away the benefits of the Goudappel decision. The Minister has strayed well beyond that.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind the Minister that his answer must be generally relevant.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Mr David Shoebridge is worried because his legal practice has gone down the drain and what he is looking for now—

The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Minister of Finance and Services to order for the first time. Does the Minister have anything further to add?

The Hon. Greg Pearce: Not at this time, thank you.

 

May 03

IWSN Press release: Families devastated by workers comp cuts

PRESS RELEASE                     

 Injured Workers Support Network will join the community march in Orange on Sunday as part of the May Day events organised by the Central West Community Alliance.

IWSN will march to support the many families disadvantaged by the O’Farrell governments slashing of workers compensation benefits last year and to support a local family devastated by the cuts.

Local family the Cantrills, accompanied by their son James who was  injured on the way to work, will tow their sons smashed up utility in the March to raise community awareness about the devastating effects of the slashing of journey claims by the O’Farrell government.

“The Injured Workers Support Network is seeing on a daily basis the effects the changes to the workers comp system are having on injured and ill workers and their families “said Central West Injured Workers Co –Coordinator Pete Tully.

‘We are seeing people being starved back to work, denied benefits, continuing deaths at work and mistreatment by employers and hostile insurers as a result of these changes. Mr O’Farrell is rewarding employers continuing poor safety record and giving employers a reduction in their insurance premium. It’s a disgrace!”

“Young James Cantrill was unfortunately injured on his way to work after O’Farrell removed journey claims from the legislation. He has been left with severe and ongoing injuries, no income and a huge burden of medical bills as a result. Under the former scheme James would have had access to the best medical treatment and rehabilitation. Now he faces a very dim future as he is left to rely on the public health system for treatment and assistance, his family being his primary  source of support.”said Mr Tully .

 

The Injured Workers Support Network is a non-profit organisation whose prime purpose is to assist injured workers in meeting the adjustment needs, psychological issues and re-employment challenges during their injury or illness.

Support Groups are run across the state including the Central West.The network offers Peer support and opportunity to meet other workers who face the same difficulties and challenges, Information regarding the NSW workers compensation system and an opportunity for guidance and support whilst dealing with their injury, illness or disability. www.injuredworkerssupport.org.au

Contacts:

 Peter Tully – Central West Area Co –Coordinator

Injured Workers Support Network

Mobile: 0402801716

May 03

Workers rally to injured worker’s cause

CWCAORGANISERS of this week’s Mayday Rally are expecting 2000 people to march down Summer Street in protest of state government’s funding cuts.

The march will be led by the wrecked utility of James Cantrill, who was one of the first people in NSW to be affected by changes to workers’ compensation laws that meant he was no longer covered by workers compensation for travel to and from work.

Unions are asking people to meet in Cook Park at 11am on May 5 and walk down Summer Street to Robertson Park.

One of the event’s organisers, the Central West Union Alliance’s Joe Maric, said Orange City Council has agreed to close the road to traffic during the march that’s expected to last  for around 20 minutes.

Mr Maric said he expected a range of employment sectors to be represented at the march including the Coal Seam Gas Alliance, the Land Council and the Public Service Association.

“It’s open to anyone who wants to come,” Mr Maric said

“Really it’s for people fighting for a better outcome for their community and workplace.”

Mr Maric said this was the only Mayday rally being held outside Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.

“We want to let all the people in Sydney know that it’s not only about what happens on the other side of the mountains,” he said.

Original source: http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/1462212/workers-rally-to-the-cause/?cs=103

May 03

Seriously injured workers get forgotten, time for major change: Shorten

Shorten

The O’Farrell Government strategy has been to cut injured workers off rather than assist and support them.  The NSW system has been failing so they decided to blame injured workers rather than fix the system.

Welcome comments from Bill Shorten.  It highlights that he understands the plight of too many injured workers

“I know people who when they get injured at work, acquire a serious injury; once they are out of sight, they’re out of mind.  And they get forgotten.

Australia cannot afford to have so many hardworking Australians forgotten about, sitting; developing a lack of confidence; not getting back to work.

So today the Federal Government is saying it is long overdue to have a national workplace safety rehabilitation strategy and for the record, this complements what the Federal Government is doing, making workplace safety a national issue.”

http://ministers.deewr.gov.au/shorten/doorstop-sunshine-west-workplace-relations-comcare-disabilitycare-australia

 

May 02

Government plan to make Comcare best practice model

AustraliaWe can on hope that this model will extend to the states -Federal government urged to consider a ”national framework” for the workers comp rehabilitation.

Government plan to make Comcare best practice model

Media Release
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
  • Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today announced plans to make Comcare best practice for work health and safety and rehabilitation

Visiting an Australia Post parcel sorting facility in Sunshine West today, the Minister indicated that the Government plans to initiate a national rehabilitation program with Comcare.

“Work related injury and illness has been estimated to cost the nation more than $60 billion every year,” said Minister Shorten.

“The Gillard Government is determined to address this rising cost by ensuring our national work health and safety and rehabilitation regulator, Comcare, becomes a best practice model.”

“The best outcome for all involved; employees, employers and the nation’s productive capacity, is getting injured and ill employees back to work sooner.”

“Comcare is in a unique position to lead this movement by helping us better understand the health benefits of work and early return to work of ill and injured employees.”

An expert medical advisor will be appointed to help define and promote the health benefits of work and the early return to work of ill and injured workers.

Comcare will work with the Institute of Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research to coordinate a national health benefits of work research program.

Comcare partnering with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Royal Australian College of GPs will:

  • Develop a ‘therapeutic guideline’ to best prescribe work as part of a rehabilitation program, with associated training and education for medical practitioners on the health benefits of work
  • Trial a medical case conferencing model to help facilitate early return to work. Case conferencing involves discussion between employee, employer and the treating medical practitioner(s) on return to work and rehabilitation steps.
  • Test new approaches to ‘fit for work’ medical certification by GPs in respect of ill or injured works covered by the Comcare scheme
  • Provide support for GPs to access expert advice through online resources and telephone advisory service to help see work as a part of the recovery and return to health of workers
  • Define a national vocational rehabilitation policy to ensure consistent standards across Australia for workplace based rehabilitation.

This work will be in addition to the amendments that will be made to improve rehabilitation and return to work provisions of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act which covers the Comcare scheme.

Comcare is a national work health and safety regulator which covers over 500 000 employees from 230 different government and private organisations including Australia Post, National Australia Bank and Linfox Logistics.

May 02

Big priority for workplace safety in the short term is to get anti-bullying laws passed: Shorten

BILL SHORTEN WORKPLACE BULLYING PRESSER

No doubt tougher laws for workplace deaths is high on priority list as well.  In recent weeks there have been far too many work-related deaths reported.

Tougher laws for workplace deaths

There’s been a call for tougher laws for negligent employers to help reduce the incidence of workplace deaths.

The call follows the opening of a national memorial in Canberra to victims of workplace deaths attended by Griffith woman Kay Catanzariti.

Her 21 year old son Ben was killed on a worksite in Canberra last July when a concrete pouring boom fell on him.

“That’s all changed now. Our lives are broken now. Hearing a spoon drop on the tiles, that crack of a boom, a 39 foot boom collapsing on my son,” said Kay Catanzarati.

At the memorial loved ones will have a place to mourn the thousands of workers who died on the job.

Authorities say there are about 300 workplace deaths every year in Australia and 46 have died on the job so far this year.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has called for the tougher laws, assistant secretary Michael Borowick says changes to the law could help.

“There’s a strong case for the introduction of industrial manslaughter legislation to be used in those very, in the worst case scenarios,” said Michael Borowick.

The Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says the big priority for workplace safety in the short term is to get anti-bullying laws passed.

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