If your employee is injured on the job, employee injuries are normally covered under one of the many workers compensation schemes in Australia. There are different authorities that oversee the schemes in each jurisdiction:
- New South Wales: State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA)
- Queensland: WorkCover Queensland
- South Australia: ReturntoWorkSA (RTWSA)
- Tasmania: WorkSafe Tasmania
- Victoria: WorkSafe Victoria
- Western Australia: WorkCover WA
- Australian Capital Territory: WorkSafe ACT
- Northern Territory: NT WorkSafe
- Commonwealth: Comcare
Workers compensation is a form of insurance that will pay an injured worker benefits such as lost earnings and medical expenses. Though some exceptions may apply under some schemes, generally, as an employer, you must pay for workers compensation. You can learn more about getting workers compensation insurance here or on the websites of the above authorities.
However, your responsibilities do not end with obtaining workers compensation insurance.
New South Wales
In NSW, employers have several responsibilities to carry out when an employee is injured.
Firstly, SIRA requires employers to keep a record of employee injuries on a register of injuries. Your register can be physical or digital. When an injury occurs, you must record the name, address, age, occupation, and industry of the injured employee, as well as the time, date, nature, and cause of each injury.
Additionally, you must notify your insurer within 48 hours of the injury. The notifier should provide the insurer details about themselves, the business, the injury, and the treating doctor. If you do not notify the insurer, your representative, the injured employee, or their representative may also notify the insurer instead.
Finally, if the injury is “serious”, “dangerous”, or resulted in death, you must preserve the site of the incident and report the injury to Safework NSW by calling 13 10 50.
Penalties apply for failing to report to SIRA or Safework NSW.
After the injury, when the employee is recovering employers are to implement their return to work program. Find out more about return to work programs here.
WorkCover Queensland requires employers to report employee injuries. You are required to report the injury within eight business days of finding out about it. However, while you have eight business days, it is best practice to report it as soon as possible. You must report the injury no matter whether you think the employee is able to or likely to make a claim. You can report the injury by phone, fax, post, or this webpage.
To find out more about about reporting injuries including seeing examples of injuries you may not need to report, see here.
Also similarly to NSW, employers must report “serious” or “dangerous” incidents to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). Examples of incidents that must be reported to WHSQ include injuries requiring immediate in-patient treatment at a hospital, uncontrolled leaking substances, and collapsing structures. Again, there is a responsibility to preserve the site. Additionally, a record must be kept for five years.
To find out more about reporting “serious” or “dangerous” incidents including seeing more examples, see here.
Queensland employers also have return to work responsibilities. Find out more here.
RTWSA requires employers to contact the appropriate RTWSA claims agent as soon possible to report the injury. You may use this claims agent lookup to identify the correct claims agent for you. The RTWSA has two claims agents.
RTWSA also imposes return to work responsibilities on employers. This involves active participation in the development and implementation of the injured employee’s recovery and return to work plan, including providing suitable duties and employment according to the employee’s rate of recovery.
Again, fatalities, serious injuries and illnesses, and dangerous incidents must be reported to SafeWork SA. Currently, this includes cases of COVID-19.
As a Tasmanian employer, you must inform an injured employee of their right to make a claim and supply the claim form. If you have received an employee’s workers compensation claim, you must notify your insurer about receiving the claim within three working days and forward the completed claim within five working days. The insurer is to confirm receiving the claim and give an update within 28 days. Claims are decided within 84 days. You are to start making weekly payments during this time.
As with other states, Tasmania requires employers to report “serious” or “dangerous” incidents, with the site preserved, and record keeping of the incident for at least five years from the date of reporting. There is also an obligation to support the employee’s return to work or injury management plan.
Similarly to NSW, Victorian employers are to keep a register of injuries.
Australian Capital Territory
In addition to your workers compensation responsibilities, depending on your place of business and the nature of the injury, you may also be liable for a claim in negligence under tort law.
So what should you do?
Since your specific responsibilities may be different depending on the nature of the incident, you should contact your appropriate authority if you have any enquiries.
It will also be helpful to consult a lawyer to advise you on your specific situation since you might face disputes regarding claims under workers compensation or negligence.