Work-related injuries can have a significant effect on your ability to do your job. In some cases, you may be forced to take time off to recover, with extended leave not uncommon for serious problems.
In NSW, workers’ compensation claims can result in financial assistance for income that you lose due to injuries or illnesses. The state is currently implementing various reforms for workers’ compensation, with the NSW government pledging $1 billion to overhaul existing systems last year.
But what types of injury are the most common in Australia? The nature of certain industries means some accidents are more likely to occur than others. If you work in a high-risk sector, you may be familiar with these ailments, either from suffering them yourself or seeing colleagues get hurt.
1. Back pain
Back pain is the most common work-related injury in Australia.
Safe Work Australia figures for 2012-13 showed back pain is the injury that claimants most frequently cite when seeking workers’ compensation. More than 20 per cent of serious claims were isolated to this region of the body.
This trend is perhaps unsurprising considering the same report indicated the top reason that people gave for getting injured was muscle stress due to lifting or handling objects. Approximately one-third of serious claims over the study period were related to lifting, carrying, putting down or handling items.
University of Sydney research found lower back pain was responsible for 33 per cent of work-related disabilities worldwide, with agricultural employees the most likely to experience this issue. The academic institution said back pain costs Australia $4.8 billion annually each year for health care.
Whether it’s falls from heights or stumbling over on ground level, the potential for injury is substantial even when trips look fairly innocuous. Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) revealed 40 per cent of injuries that required hospitalisation in 2012-13 were due to falls.
The AIHW statistics covered all Australians, but the figures for work-related accidents are similarly damning. Around one-fifth of employee injuries are from falls, either on the same level or from height. Falling objects lead to approximately 3 per cent of serious workers’ compensation claims.
According to a 2013 Safe Work Australia report, approximately 11 per cent of employee fatalities between 2003 and 2011 followed a fall from height. These injuries were the most common in the construction industry, particularly the housebuilding, painting and decorating and roofing professions.
3. Mental stress
Workers’ compensation doesn’t just cover physical injuries; people who find themselves unable to perform their job due to mental health issues can also make claims. Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are among the most common conditions for which you may claim.
Mental health charity beyondblue estimates around 3 million Australians suffer from depression or anxiety in a given one-year period. The organisation said 12 per cent of individuals in the country will experience PTSD at some point during their life.
Certain professions are often linked to higher incidences of mental health problems, including the armed forces and the police. This is largely due to workers’ exposure to potentially traumatic events. Safe Work Australia statistics revealed more than 5 per cent of serious claims are linked to mental stress.
You can claim workers’ compensation for mental disorders.
4. Vehicle accidents
Incidents involving vehicles only comprise around 3 per cent of serious injury claims, yet they are by far the largest contributor to work-related fatalities in Australia. In fact, nearly 35 per cent of employee deaths are due to motor accidents.
Furthermore, the AIHW found that 12 per cent of all injuries requiring hospitalisation in 2012-13 were transport crashes. Men sustained more injuries than woman, while those aged between 15 and 24 years old are the highest-risk demographic.
Safe Work Australia statistics from 2003 to 2012 showed truck accidents killed 787 employees over the 10-year period, which was 30 per cent of total worker fatalities. The transport, postal and warehousing industry was responsible for 50 per cent of these deaths.
Claiming workers’ compensation
If you have recently sustained injuries in the workplace, you should get in touch with expert NSW compensation lawyers to discuss a claim. There are time limits on pursuing workers’ compensation cases, so getting in touch as quickly as possible is recommended.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data found that 531,800 employees reported injuries between July 2013 and June 2014. Sixty-one per cent of these individuals received financial assistance, of which 56 per cent successfully claimed workers’ compensation. The figures showed only 4 per cent of people who pursued workers’ compensation were rejected.
“The most commonly reported problems were sprains and strains, which accounted for one in three injuries, followed by joint or muscle conditions at one in five,” said Stephen Collett, a program manager in the ABS’ population and social statistics division.
Ultimately, workers’ compensation could provide you with crucial financial support at a time when your main income stream has been jeopardised. Please contact a no-win, no-fee lawyer to explore your options today.