APM attended the North Queensland Injury Prevention and Return to Work Conference April 2018 in Townsville and were also an exhibitor.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace opened the conference where a record crowd attended. She said the high turnout highlighted the community’s increasing awareness of these important issues.
“I’m so pleased more than 300 people are attending this conference in North Queensland today,” Ms Grace said.
“The conference is a must for safety and return to work professionals in the state’s north.
“The Palaszczuk Government is proud to support this important event because we are committed to looking after injured Queenslanders and getting them safely back to work.
“For the first time, this year’s conference will have a specific focus on injury prevention in the workplace.
“As we know, there’s no better way to avoid the personal and financial cost of workplace tragedies, than by preventing them.”
Delegates from for this annual professional development event took away insights, information and skills to help influence meaningful change in safety and return to work, and partook inspirational presentations including:
- Bernard Salt – Futurist, The future of the Australian workforce.
- Sarah Cornally – Leadership advisor, Leveraging your leadership in safety and return to work.
- Simon Brown-Greaves – Organisational psychologist, Workplace conflict and psychosocial risk management.
- Dr Stanley Rodski – Cognitive neuroscientist, Rewiring the brain for safety.
- Dr Gary Dennis – Ergonomist, The anatomy of a musculoskeletal disorder.
- Dr Cameron Mackay – Hand and plastic reconstructive surgeon, Effectively managing hand injuries.
WorkCover Queensland are currently reviewing the rehabilitation provider panel to ensure sufficient Occupational Therapist coverage across Queensland.
This is subsequent to The Hon Grace Grace MP, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations’, promise prior to the last election.
WorkCover Queensland are undertaking an analysis into the overall service delivery and location coverage of the return to work (RTW) services panel. They are also analysing claim location trends and employment projections across Queensland.
WorkCover Queensland have advised that the analysis is expected to be finalised shortly, and they will soon be in contact to advise of the findings of the analysis and planned future steps.
New South Wales
SIRA NSW has announced recently that there are new vocational support programs for people injured in motor accidents.
There are now three vocational support programs that are available to support people who have been injured in a motor accident in NSW.
As part of a trial by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), these programs offer a range of support services to both the injured person and their employer, including funding to support recovery at work.
Recover at Work Assist
Provides financial support to the injured person’s current employer to offset the costs associated with having them recover at work, such as hiring a casual employee to fulfil some of the worker’s usual tasks.
The employer can receive up to $400/week for up to 12 weeks. The injured person can return to work using a recover at work plan. This is similar to a program under workers compensation, with a few key differences:
- The CTP program runs for up to 12 weeks (not six).
- The CTP program places no limits on employer size, whereas the workers compensation program limits employer eligibility based on their number of employees and their base tariff premium.
- In the CTP program, the injured person’s employer pays their wages for the hours they work (and the injured person is eligible to claim weekly statutory benefits from their insurer for their partial loss of earning capacity); whereas in the workers compensation program, employers don’t pay the injured person’s wages.
Provides incentives to new employers to hire people who have been injured in a motor accident by providing:
Incentive payments of up to $27,400 for up to 12 months.
Reimbursement of any workers compensation claim excess, should an excess be incurred, as a result of a change to a claimant’s existing motor accident injury within the first two years of their new employment.
Transition to Work
Provides funding to address any immediate or short-term barriers to a person injured in a motor accident starting work with a new employer.
- Tier 1: up to $200 to help the injured person prepare for job seeking or commencing work
- Tier 2: up to $5,000 to address an immediate or short-term barrier to accepting a new job offer (eg travel, transitional child care, clothing).
How can my clients access these programs?
You can recommend these vocational support programs to your client’s CTP insurer, or the insurer can ask you to start the application process:
- Recover at Work Assist requires a workplace assessment and recover-at-work plan prior to the insurer approving for the program. If the injured person successfully enters the program, APM will be responsible for reviewing their situation to ensure their duties are performed safely and in accordance with the recover at work plan. An information sheet for the employer and injured person is available.
- For the JobCover Placement program, APM or the insurer will need to make sure the injured person can explain the program benefits and eligibility criteria to a potential employer. APM might also need to conduct a workplace assessment. The insurer may ask APM to assist in completing the program application form.
Information on eligibility for each of these CTP vocational support programs (as well as vocational training, workplace modifications and equipment) can be found in the SIRA guide for CTP vocational support.
Further information will be made available on SIRA’s website pages for workers.
Australian Capital Territory
The Comcare Scheme – Workers’ Compensation Statistics 2016–17 has been released with data to June 2017. The publication presents an overview of the Comcare scheme and includes statistical data on the scheme's workers' compensation performance.
At the scheme level, for the five years from 2012–13 to 2016–17:
The number of employees covered under the SRC Act has increased from 377 600 to 388 400, and the number of employees covered under the WHS Act has reduced slightly from 414 600 to 410 600.
The total WHS Act FTE and proportions have remained relatively stable over the five years between 2012–13 and 2016–17. The SRC Act FTE has increased (three per cent) over this period, and the proportions have changed slightly, with an 11 per cent increase in the self-insured licensee FTE.
There has been a 34 per cent reduction in the incidence of claims lodged from 23.2 to 15.2 claims lodged per 1000 FTE employees.
The Australian Government experienced a 34 per cent reduction in the incidence of claims lodged, from approximately 17.6 claims lodged per 1000 FTE employees during 2012–13 to approximately 11.6 claims lodged per 1000 FTE employees during 2016–17.
The self-insured licensees had a 37 per cent reduction in the incidence of claims lodged, from approximately 30.7 claims lodged per 1000 FTE employees during 2012 13 to approximately 19.4 claims lodged per 1000 FTE employees during 2016–17.
There has been a 33 per cent reduction in the incidence of serious claims from 8.8 to 5.9 claims per 1000 FTE. Serious claims are those claims that reach one week or more of time lost during the reporting period.
Consistent with the reduction generally in the incidence of lodged and accepted claims, there has been a reduction in the incidence of body stressing claims (44 per cent) and mental stress claims (54 per cent). Body stressing and mental stress claim costs account for the highest proportion of cost over the five years reported.
Across the scheme, the most significant sub-groups for mental stress claims were work related harassment and/or bullying and work pressure (35 and 29 per cent of these claims respectively).
Median incapacity has remained stable at approximately five weeks for injury claims and seven to eight weeks for disease claims.
Across the scheme, the median incapacity for injury claims has risen slightly from 4.6 weeks during 2015–16 to 4.9 weeks during 2016–17; For disease claims, the median duration of time lost has reduced from 7.3 weeks to 6.9 weeks over the same period. Disease claims include those due to mental stress – these claims tend to have longer periods of time lost across the duration of the claim.
The data shows that claim durations for Australian Government are longer than for self-insured licensees.
Total payments made for workers’ compensation claims for the Comcare scheme have been decreasing since 2013–14. These payments include payments to injured workers and payments for medical, rehabilitation, legal and administrative costs.
84% of survey participants who took time off work, had returned to work and were working at the time of the 2016 Return to Work Survey. This is down from 87% in 2015.
There has been an increase in the number of requests for reconsiderations and appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The reconsideration increase was driven by an 82 per cent increase in requests received from the Australian Government. The scheme reconsideration affirmation rate has improved over time, and now stands at 82% for the scheme, 81% for the Australian Government, and 83% for Self-Insured Licensees.
The scheme AAT affirmation rate has improved since 2012–13, from 64 per cent to 69 per cent. The self-insured licensee AAT affirmation rate has been consistently higher than that of the Australian Government over the five-year period.
The Victorian Transport and Accident Commission held its first Vocational Services Forum for the year on Friday the 27th of April; with external vocational providers and TAC staff from Rapid Recovery, Supported Recovery and Independence in attendance.
The forum was an opportunity to work collaboratively to identify ideas to better support people with complexities.
An update was also provided regarding how the new vocational model was progressing. With up to 20,000 people either killed or injured on Victorian roads each year, the TAC spends more than $1 billion annually to help these people get their lives back on track.
The new Vocational Service Structure at the TAC provides clients with choice and control of the services they need to return to work, and vocational service providers more freedom and choice to tailor their intervention and services to meet the client needs.
The TAC has commissioned qualitative interviews with TAC clients, their employers, vocational providers and TAC employees to establish the new Vocational Service Structure, and will share the outcomes once a reasonable sample size is achieved.
In December 2018 APM were appointed to the Transport Accident Commissions (TAC) new Vocational Rehabilitation Service Panel. With a 15 year history of providing superior services to the TAC, APM were pleased to be invited to present at the first Vocational Services Forum where the topic of “working with clients with complex needs” was explored.
APM has specialist experience in providing vocational services to TAC independence clients who have sustained significant injuries such as acquired brain injury or spinal injuries and assisting them towards their desired goal of being included in the workforce.
To leverage from this, TAC screened a recent interview of a client and his mother who have had first-hand experience working with the TAC and APM to achieve his vocational goals.
Following this screening, APM conducted a panel interview with the client’s TAC Support Coordinator and APM Rehabilitation Consultant where key learnings and considerations were discussed and how successful outcomes can be achieved when working with clients with complex needs.
TAC also facilitated a highly valuable activity focusing on Working through options for long term unemployed living with disability, where all stakeholders worked collaboratively to identify some of the main barriers facing this cohort and effective strategies to address barriers such as isolation, regional locations, limited labour market, family issues and transport.
Amendments to Tasmania’s Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 have passed through Parliament.
The Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Bill received Royal Assent on 16 October 2017 and changes came into effect on 1 January 2018.
The aim of these changes is to remove excessive ‘red tape’ associated with the state’s workers rehabilitation and compensation scheme. Instead the focus will be directed to achieving positive outcomes for injured workers and employers.
A number of definitions, processes and qualification requirements have been updated to better reflect the current market.
- The structure of the WorkCover Tasmania Board has been changed, from a representative-based membership to a skills-based membership of five members nominated by the Minister and appointed by the Governor of Tasmania. Minor amendments to the Board’s functions have been made.
- Employers are no longer required to serve workers with a written notice of their right to make a claim. However, the worker must still be informed, within 14 days after being notified of an injury, of their right to make a claim, and this must be in the prescribed format.
- An employer must have in place a policy of insurance that complies with section 97(1). The policy of insurance must indemnify the employer in respect of the full amount of their liabilities.
- Employers no longer need to develop and implement return to work and injury management plans within time frames specified in legislation. Time frames for plans must be specified in injury management programs. An injury management program is a program approved by the Board which outlines the method an insurer will apply to manage claims.
- Employers are required to appoint a return to work co-ordinator if they employ more than 100 workers (the previous requirement was 50 workers).
- Insurers are no longer required to renew licences and permits. If a licence or permit issued by the Board is in place when the amendments take effect, it will remain in place unless it is surrendered, or the Board revokes or suspends it.
- Workers compensation medical certificates must not be provided for more than 28 days (previously 14 days) of total incapacity, unless the medical practitioner states a reason on the certificate and sets a date for reviewing the certification.
It’s been nearly three years since workers’ compensation legislation in South Australia underwent a significant change.
Changes included a cap of two years on Income Support for injured workers, maximum three years of medical expenses paid for, and the inclusion of a Seriously Injured category which provided Seriously Injured Workers Income Support to retirement age and medical expenses and support for life.
Recently, the RTWSA reported that the scheme has shown significant success in all measures. Most importantly for local businesses, premiums have decreased by 38%, and return to work rates are higher at the 4, 13, 52 and 104 weeks post-injury marks.
The legislation change also incorporated face to face service, requiring the claims agents (Gallagher Bassett and EML) to conduct face to face appointments with injured workers, their employer and treating medical providers, to ensure that the injury, work requirements and medical care were properly understood to facilitate a safe and sustainable return to work.
These measures have proved very successful, with complaints reduced by 91%, which is a fantastic result in a very emotive and difficult period in people’s lives.
This success is being examined by other insurance schemes in South Australia, specifically Compulsory Third Party Insurance.
This scheme changed in 2016 and the four private CTP Insurance Providers are now looking at offering the same sort of personalised service, with case managers making more of a move to visit claimants to better understand their needs during the recovery and return to work process.
APM embraces the changes in both the RTWSA and CTP scheme in South Australia as an increasingly positive way our Adelaide team is able to have an impact and enable better lives.
WorkCover WA has announced workplace rehabilitation provider changes to commence from 1 July 2018.
In the proposed workplace rehabilitation provider outcome pathway published on WorkCover WA online, Return to Work (RTW) outcomes must comply with section 5 of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1982.
Only workers working at full capacity at time of closure will be considered as having achieved a Return to Work outcome, and able to proceed to durability.
All other outcomes, from working at partial capacity; to not working at all, with or without capacity, is considered a No Return to Work (NRTW) outcome. ‘Maintained at Work’ will no longer be a RTW Outcome option.
Workers can be referred at any status for a specific service (one-off services) or rehabilitation program (ongoing service).
'Assessment only' coding is only able to be applied if a rehabilitation program service is closed without proceeding past an Initial Assessment, and will not count as a successful RTW.
If a worker changes provider after an Initial Assessment, the referral cannot be closed as Assessment Only. The status of the worker will be entered in WorkCover WA online by the insurer at referral and by the workplace rehabilitation provider at closure, using the same consistent five categories to code.
The requirement for workplace rehabilitation providers to submit referrals to WorkCover WA within 28 days will be removed, as an insurer will confirm the referral to the workplace rehabilitation provider through WorkCover WA Online once it has been determined that workplace rehabilitation is appropriate.
The current RTW rates are 95% for workers who return to work with the same employer and 75% for those who return to work with a new employer, each with a 10% tolerance.
The RTW rates will be adjusted to incorporate the tolerance levels and all reference to a tolerance will be removed.
Workplace rehabilitation providers such as APM will be able to view industry results regarding RTW outcomes on WorkCover WA online. This data will be provided to encourage self-regulation and identify areas of strengths and improvements.
A series of animated videos on the Northern Territory workers’ compensation scheme is now available.
NT WorkSafe have developed these to be a useful educational resource for stakeholders.
Video topics available include:
- Making a claim
- Returning to work – guide for workers
- Returning to work - guide for employers
- What are my entitlements – guide for workers
- Dispute resolution
- Case conferences
- Fitness for work medical certificate – information for doctors
- Workers’ compensation insurance – guide for employers
Another 4 videos will be available soon, with the topics to include:
- Aboriginal workers – workers’ compensation
- Role of a rehabilitation provider (which APM have proudly assisted in the development of)
- General Information for Doctors
- Workers’ compensation – guide for insurance Brokers
Small Business Safety Program
The Small Business Safety Program is an initiative created by NT WorkSafe to help small businesses in the Northern Territory meet their Work Health and Safety duties. New or established businesses, not-for-profit organisations and sole traders are all eligible.
Small Business Safety Program Advisors can provide resources to create a suitable work health and safety management system for the business that suits the size of the workplace, the type of work completed as well as the type of workers that work at the business. Advisors are not inspectors and do not have any enforcement powers.
They assist to identify hazards, understand the risk management process, and can provide tools and templates such as:
- Policies and procedures
- Safe work method statements
- Training records
- Chemical registers
- Equipment maintenance lists, or
- Other resources and guidance material
Advisors are able to be engaged through face to face consultation, group information sessions, toolbox talks, team meetings, email or phone. Consultations are free and confidential.