Many are the storemen and packers involved in heavy lifting, the builders climbing ladders to do the hard work of constructing houses or the nurses rushing around the wards caring for sick people who sustain a serious neck injury at work.
However, no matter in which field of endeavour you work, if you suffer a neck injury at work and can’t return to your job, you should make a total and permanent disability (TPD) or permanent impairment claim either through your Superannuation Fund or private insurer.
The Return to Work and Injury Management Process
While most people who suffer a neck injury at work return to their occupation after six to 13 weeks, it depends on the kind of neck injury involved and its level of severity, with some never being able to work again. The problem with being unable to return is that the longer you are away from work, the less likely you are to ever be able to go back.
The more active you are, the sooner you recover
It’s well known among health professionals and insurers that the more active you are after an injury, the faster you recover, and working helps you stay active. Depending on the kind of work you did before your neck injury, whether you were an airline baggage handler hauling heavy luggage all day long, a brickie’s labourer pushing a wheelbarrow or you’re a pro golfer, a return to work and injury management program should be devised to suit your needs. An insurer will likely suggest you return to light duties. Talk to us immediately if you are feeling pressured to return to work.
Return to Work Programs After Neck Injury
Return-to-work programs to help people go back to their jobs are generally part and parcel of the rehabilitation provided in a Workers’ Compensation claim.
The rehabilitation and return to work process involves good case management, clear communication and collaboration between you, the injured worker, your employer, work insurers, and medical and rehabilitation providers to help you go back to your job. An important role in this scenario is played by GPs.
Make Sure You Don’t Return to Work Too Soon
While it’s great if you can go back to your job and feel you can carry out your normal duties again after a neck injury at work, it’s not uncommon for an insurance company or employer to be over-eager to get you back to work to save them money.
Don’t give in to pressure or juicy incentives to go back to your job since returning to work too early can seriously affect your recovery process and may cause you to be re-injured.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Not all workers are covered by Worker’s Compensation insurance. If you are a full-time or part-time employee or apprentice, whether that’s as a tradie or any other ordinary occupation, apart from the ADF or if you were a firefighter where there is a new scheme in place, and you sustained a neck injury at work, you are covered by Workers’ Compensation.
In some instances, casuals and volunteers are also included, although most schemes don’t cover contractors or subcontractors.
The Accident Site
The accident or incident in which you injured your neck doesn’t necessarily have to have occurred on-site to be eligible for Worker’s Compensation benefits. Your employer’s insurance premiums cover all employees while they are traveling for business related purposes and while on lunch and tea breaks.
Factors Affecting Return to Work After Injury
Under NSW Workers’ Compensation law, from the time the injury occurs or is recognised, there are things you and your employer must do. Should you be unable to perform at your usual job but can function in another department or do another kind of task at work, then your employer is legally obliged to offer you suitable employment that supports your recovery and matches your skills and capacity. Your employer is also obliged to have a return-to-work program in place for injured workers to support them in returning to their jobs.
The Benefits of Returning to Work After Injury
A successful outcome is more likely for anyone suffering a neck injury at work if effective initial treatment and good rehabilitation with early mobilising are provided.
Workers suffering a neck or any other kind of injury feel more useful if they can return to their job as soon as possible, and this should be achieved within the constraints of safety. The camaraderie between, for instance, a team of firefighters, police, co-workers or pro athletes can help the injured member feel supported.
Workers’ Compensation Policy is Mandatory
A Workers’ Compensation policy is mandatory for all employers in NSW no matter which industry they operate in, whether it’s building, farming, manufacturing or hospitality etc. unless they are exempt.
The government body responsible for regulating the NSW Workers’ Compensation scheme is the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA). SIRA assumed the functions of WorkCover in 2015. In NSW there are three types of insurers in the state’s Workers’ Compensation system:
- Insurance and Care NSW or icare delivers insurance and services to people who have suffered work-related injuries.
- Employers approved by SIRA to manage their own Workers’ Compensation claims are called Self-insurers.
- Workers’ Compensation insurance for a class of business or employers or a specific industry can be regulated by a specialised insurer holding a restricted licence.
All the above insurance types are obligated by law to manage claims and support injured workers in their recovery and return to work and to ensure they receive their Workers’ Compensation benefits and entitlements.