Your Guide to Workplace Injuries in Brisbane

Best Injury Lawyers Insights  |  January 12, 2024
builder working on wall frame

Workplace injuries are a significant concern for employees and employers alike. In Brisbane, just like in other parts of Australia, these injuries can range from minor accidents to serious, life-altering incidents. Understanding these injuries, how they happen, and their impact is crucial.

In the 2021-22 financial year, 497,300 people in Australia had a work-related injury or illness, equating to 3.5% of people who worked during the year.

Whether you’re an employee worried about workplace safety or someone who has already experienced an injury on the job, this guide will help you navigate the often complex world of work accident claims and compensation in Brisbane.

What is a Workplace Injury?

A workplace injury is any injury or illness that happens to someone during their job. In Australian law, these injuries are not just about accidents that happen suddenly, like a fall or a cut. They also include illnesses or conditions that develop over time because of the work, like hearing loss from loud noise or back pain from heavy lifting.

Workplace injuries are different from other types of injuries because they are directly connected to someone’s job. This means that if you get hurt while working, it’s a work accident. But, if you get injured at home or doing something not related to your job, it’s generally not considered a workplace injury unless you were working from home at the time.

In Brisbane and across Australia, workplace accidents are a common issue. For example, recent data shows that thousands of workers in Queensland report workplace injuries each year. These injuries can range from minor to very serious. The most common cause of injury or illness is ‘Lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending’, accounting for 24% of cases​ in Australia in 2022. Knowing about these risks and how to handle them is important for everyone in the workforce.

In Brisbane and across Australia, workplace injuries are a common issue. For example, recent data shows that thousands of workers in Queensland report workplace injuries each year. These injuries can range from minor to very serious. The most common cause of injury or illness is ‘Lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending’, accounting for 24% of cases​ in Australia in 2022. Knowing about these risks and how to handle them is important for everyone in the workforce.

carpenter at work at bench

Types of Workplace Injuries

Workplace injuries can happen in many ways. Here are some common types and how they usually occur:

  • Slips, Trips, and Falls: These are some of the most common accidents at work. They can happen anywhere, like tripping over a wire or slipping on a wet floor. These accidents often occur in offices, retail spaces, and warehouses.
  • Machinery Accidents: These injuries happen when someone is using or working near machines. Examples include getting a hand caught in a machine or being hit by moving parts. These are more common in industries like manufacturing and construction.
  • Overexertion Injuries: These happen from lifting, pushing, pulling, or doing other heavy physical work. Back and shoulder injuries are typical examples. They often occur in industries that require manual labor, like construction or warehouse work.
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs): RSIs are caused by doing the same motion over and over. This can lead to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. Office workers who use computers a lot are at risk for these injuries.
  • Injuries from Falling Objects: These occur when something falls from a height and hits a worker. This is common in jobs like construction and warehousing.
  • Cuts and Lacerations: These are injuries like cuts from sharp objects. They can happen in kitchens, workshops, and places where tools or machinery are used.
  • Exposure to Harmful Substances: This includes injuries from chemicals or other hazardous materials. Industries like cleaning, manufacturing, and healthcare often see these types of injuries.

In 2022, the most common types of injuries throughout Australia were sprains, strains, or dislocations (29%), chronic joint or muscle conditions (20%), and cuts or open wounds (13%).

Each type of injury has its risks and happens in different work environments. In Brisbane, with its diverse economy, all these injuries can occur in various industries. Nationally, the most common industries with the highest rates of work-related injuries in 2022 were Accommodation and Food Services (5.6%), Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (5.4%), and Transport, Postal, and Warehousing (5.1%).

Understanding Your Workplace Injury Rights and Responsibilities

Employee Rights in Brisbane Regarding Workplace Injuries

In Brisbane, if you’re injured at work, you have certain rights. Here are some key points:

  • Right to Medical Treatment: You can get medical help if you’re injured at work. This includes seeing a doctor and getting treatment. You are entitled to see your own doctor and you are under no obligation to see the doctor your employer wants to send you to.
  • Right to Report the Injury: You have the right to tell your employer about your injury. This should be done as soon as possible.
  • Right to Compensation: If you’re injured at work, you may be eligible for compensation. This can help cover medical costs and lost wages. You should make a WorkCover claim as soon as possible, and within 6 months.
  • Right to Return to Work: After recovery, you have the right to return to your job or a suitable role.
  • Right to Privacy and Respect: Your personal and medical information should be kept private, and you should be treated fairly and with respect.
construction workers on site

Employer Responsibilities in Preventing Workplace Injuries

Employers in Brisbane also have responsibilities to prevent workplace injuries:

  • Maintaining a Safe Work Environment: Employers must make sure the workplace is safe and follows safety rules.
  • Providing Training and Safety Equipment: Employers should train employees on safety and provide necessary equipment.
  • Reporting and Recording Injuries: If an injury happens, employers must report it and keep records.
  • Supporting Injured Employees: Employers should help employees who get injured at work, including supporting their return to work.

Both employees and employers have important roles in dealing with workplace injuries. Understanding these rights and responsibilities helps make workplaces in Brisbane safer for everyone.

Workplace Injury Claims Process in Brisbane

If you’re injured at work in Brisbane, there’s a specific process to file a claim. Understanding this process can help ensure you receive the support and compensation you’re entitled to.

Report the Injury

As soon as you’re injured at work, it’s crucial to inform your employer. Reporting the injury not only begins the claims process but also ensures that your employer is aware of the incident and can take immediate action.

Your employer should provide you with an incident report form. Filling this out creates a formal record of the injury, which is necessary for any subsequent claim. Insist on an incident report being completed and obtaining a copy. If they won’t complete an incident report, you should send your supervisor or boss a text message or email confirming the incident happened and who you have reported it to. Keep the text or email for future reference.

Seek Medical Attention

Getting medical help is important for your health and for documenting the injury. Tell the healthcare provider that your injury is work-related so it’s recorded as such.

Request the doctor provides you with a WorkCover Work Capacity Certificate. This document is essential for your claim as it provides evidence of the injury and its severity.

Fill Out a Claim Form

You can get the workers’ compensation claim form from your employer, WorkCover Queensland, or download it online. This form is the official document to request compensation.

Fill out the form with details about your injury and how it occurred. Be thorough and accurate, as this information is critical to your claim.

You can also call WorkCover Queensland on 1300 362 128 and make the claim over the phone.

Submit the Claim Form

Once you’ve completed the form, submit it either through your employer or directly to WorkCover Queensland (our recommendation is directly to WorkCover). Ensure that all necessary documentation is attached. After submission, WorkCover Queensland will acknowledge receipt of your claim. This starts the formal review process.

two construction workers inside skyscraper

Role of WorkCover Queensland

WorkCover Queensland’s role is to assess your claim. They review the circumstances of your injury and your medical reports to determine eligibility for compensation.

They may communicate with your employer and your doctor to understand the full context of your injury and its impact on your work.

Investigation of the Claim

The claim investigation involves a detailed review of all submitted documents, including the incident report from your employer and your medical records.

Sometimes, WorkCover Queensland may request additional information or clarification to fully understand the claim.

Decision on the Claim

WorkCover Queensland will inform you of their decision on your claim. This usually happens within a few weeks of the claim submission and should happen within 20 business days. If your claim is accepted, you’ll receive details about your claim number and how much your weekly compensation will be and how to submit receipts and treatment to WorkCover. If it’s declined, they will provide reasons for the decision.

Receiving Compensation

Compensation can include payments for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages due to time off work. If your claim is successful, WorkCover Queensland will outline how and when you will receive these payments.

If Your Claim is Disputed

If your claim is disputed or declined, you have options. You can request a review of the decision or appeal it. In these cases, getting legal advice can help you understand your rights and the best course of action. You have 3 months from receiving a ‘reasons for decision letter’ to request a review.

Ongoing Support and Return to Work

If your claim is accepted, you’ll often receive support for rehabilitation and returning to work. This includes access to medical and support services. Part of this process may involve adjusting your work duties or environment to accommodate your recovery and ensure a safe return to work.

Remember, the timelines for each step can vary, but it’s important to start the process quickly after the injury. Each case is unique, so it’s essential to provide accurate and comprehensive information to support your claim.

man meeting with lawyer in skyscraper meeting room

FAQ’s About Workplace Injuries and Claims

How long do I have to report a workplace injury?

In Brisbane, it’s best to report a workplace injury as soon as possible, ideally on the same day it happens. It’s best to keep a written record of the incident report and any communications with your supervisor in order to prove the incident was reported. Delaying the report can affect the claims process.

Can I be fired for claiming compensation for a workplace injury?

No, you cannot be legally fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim for a workplace injury. Australian law protects employees from being dismissed unfairly or retaliated against for exercising their rights, including making a workers’ compensation claim. If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, seek legal advice.

What should I do if my employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance?

Employers in Brisbane are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not have this insurance, you can still file a claim with WorkCover Queensland. WorkCover will then pursue reimbursement from your employer. It’s also advisable to seek legal advice in such situations.

Can I choose my own doctor for treatment of a workplace injury?

Yes, you have the right to choose your own doctor for treatment. It’s important that you’re comfortable with your healthcare provider and that they fully understand your injury and its impact on your work life.

What happens if my workplace injury is long-term or permanent?

If your workplace injury leads to long-term or permanent impairment, you may be eligible for additional benefits, like common law compensation. This is assessed based on the severity and impact of your injury. Long-term support and rehabilitation services may also be available.

Are mental health injuries covered under workplace injury claims?

Yes, mental health injuries, like stress or trauma that are directly related to your work, are covered under workplace injury claims. You will need to provide evidence that the mental health condition is work-related, similar to physical injury claims. However, if you mental health injury is caused due to ‘reasonable management action’ on the part of your employer, you will not be entitled to claim.

In fact, two out of three people who experienced a work-related injury or illness in Australia in 2022 had some time off work, with stress or other mental health conditions leading to the highest average number of days off (44 days)​.

What if I’m a casual or part-time employee? Am I still covered?

Casual and part-time employees are also entitled to workers’ compensation if they suffer a workplace injury. The key factor is not your employment status, but whether the injury occurred in the course of your employment.

Got other questions about workplace injuries not covered here? Speak with our team!

construction worker on ladder reaching for ceiling

Should You Get Legal Support for Workplace Injury Claims?

Understanding the legal aspects of workplace injury claims is crucial. Here’s why legal advice and representation matter:

Navigating Complex Legal Processes

Workplace injury claims can involve complex legal processes and regulations. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate these complexities, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and your rights are protected.

Maximising Compensation

A lawyer specialised in workplace injuries can help ensure you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to. They understand how to accurately assess the impact of your injury, including future medical expenses and lost income.

Dealing with Insurers and Employers

Lawyers can effectively negotiate with insurers and employers on your behalf. They have the expertise to handle disputes and ensure fair treatment throughout the claims process.

Legal Expertise in Case of Disputes

If your claim is disputed or denied, legal support becomes even more vital. A lawyer can represent you in appeals and court proceedings, providing the necessary legal arguments and evidence to support your case.

Start Your No-Win No-Fee Workplace Injury Claim Today

If you’ve been hurt in a work accident, whether it happened in an office, on a construction site, or somewhere else, you deserve a reliable Brisbane work accident lawyer to help you get the best outcome. At Best Injury Lawyers, our skilled team specialises in work accident claims, including WorkCover claims, for incidents in any Queensland workplace. It doesn’t matter if your accident was in an office, on a worksite, in the mines, or even on your way to work — the Best team is here to assist you.

Our experienced work accident lawyers are ready to examine your case for free and guide you on what to do next. Start your claim with us today.