Number 1 : Be always aware of work place dangers.
Hyper vigilance sounds like a world gone mad but small things can and do lead to big problems.
Take the example of one of our members who suffered a serious back strain when they tripped on a pen that had fallen off a desk. They fell backwards onto the buttock and the rest is a sad story of months in recovery from her back injury. It can be that small, but it can be as large as an unsecured railing on a work site leading a family with two toddlers to lose their father at a construction site, or an employer who refused to paint a few pedestrian safe walkways in their warehouse having one of their long term staff members run over by a forklift. Psychological injuries are just as likely when management refuse to ensure that staff treat each other with respect, or actively support an abusive culture in their workplaces.
The emphasis will always be on managers to create and ensure their workplaces and the way in which they train and work their employees is safe but everyone should be hyper-vigilant when it comes to what they do and what they allow others to do from the highest paid CEO to the lowest paid casual.
2. First response is everyone’s responsibility.
So you may not be the first aider at your work site, but you can still ring up for an ambulance, you don’t need permission to do that, and no manager should be so heartless to hold back on ringing up after an accident. This happens, and it shouldn’t – you wouldn’t hold back if it was your brother or sister, why would anyone hold back just because it’s in a work place?
It isn’t even as drastic as that though, tell someone who has been injured to get to the doctors as soon as possible. Report someone who is psychologically violent in the workplace bullying and harassment is everyone’s responsibility and if management aren’t taking action then they are just as bad as the perpetrator.
3. See your own GP, don’t go to the employers, don’t allow your employer to attend with you.
I don’t understand why employers and large multi-nationals have as part of their training that they have to go with an injured worker to see their doctor. It’s against medical privacy laws all over Australia and it’s against common decency. The number of stories I hear of employers and managers who put their own bonus pays in front of the health and lives of their employees is heartrendingly too common. Employers Doctors are paid for by the company, they may be brilliant but at the end of the day they are answerable to these employers who’s only goal is to keep their costs down, it’s your health- not their wealth and everyone should enforce this law no matter who they are, what position they are in or what level their bonus is.
4. Make a claim for workers compensation if you are injured at work.
This isn’t a perk, it isn’t a party either. It’s a legal right a legitimate right of someone who has been injured because of a mishap at work- a mishap that in the vast majority of cases could have been avoided if the employer or manager followed the first rule here.
Sure, there are many hoops and pitfalls but if you don’t make a claim you lose. Instead of the insurer helping you (they don’t do as much as they should though) you have to bear the entire cost. Your employer says they will cover you if you don’t make a claim? for how long? if they are willing to bribe you, and break a law, how far can you trust them? Make a claim, get at least some assurance that an injury which the employer could have avoided if they did their job right in the first place doesn’t cost you your livelihood.
5. Get help.
Don”t rely on what your employer tells you. Even if they are great employers, their information is given to them by their insurers, and if you believe the insurers are on your side you have rocks in your head. Ring up your union. Ring us up, join us on facebook or attend our local meetings. Get advice that is truly independent of the financial institutions that for some reason have been given the responsibility of controlling your recovery and or adapt to your injury.