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All employers play a crucial role in the prevention and management of workplace injuries.
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Home » Employers » Injury Management- What is Happening and When? » The First Month After Injury

The First Month After Injury

  

 

Reporting an Injury or Incident. Workplace injuries or Illnesses

 

If in the course of their work your employee becomes injured physically and/or psychologically, or work induced a disease process e.g.  poisoning from toxic fumes, they are entitled to have the costs of their medical treatment and rehabilitation reimbursed through your compulsory workers compensation policy. In fact if the injury occurs at work the Federal Governments’ Medicare scheme or private health insurance may not cover them for treatment of the injury if the injured worker is entitled to workers compensation benefits.

 

Circumstances of injury 

 

Sometimes it is very clear that a work place injury occurred at the workplace and was a result of something that happened had work. For example if a worker falls off a ladder while helping several workmates load or unload tiles this is an obvious  claim. There are likely to be witnesses and there may be blood or an obvious fracture. 

At other times an injury may be less obvious such as with a repetitive strain injury, or a psychological injury related to bullying. These injuries may not have been witnessed by other staff or may have also have been associated with issues of performance management.

When an injury occurs and there is uncertainty as to whether it occurred at work, questions of liability for workers compensation claim may arise.  To minimise difficulties for your workers down the track with accessing treatment and workers compensation benefits it is essential that there is a policy in place where workers are required to report incidents and injuries to you.

 

Important initial steps include:

 

  • arranging for the injured worker to have treatment onsite if available, or first aide, or time off work to get medical help for a workplace incident is the reporting of the incident to the employer. With significant and traumatic incidents medical care and treatment is a priority.
  • The next step may be a visit to a doctor.  An employer may request a worker to see a doctor of their choice initially  however who the worker nominates and decides to seek ongoing treatment from their Nominated Treating Doctor.  The doctor is consulted for ongoing follow up treatment, the nominated is the decision of the injured worker, not the employer or insurer.


Choosing a doctor being The Nominated Treating Doctor  (NTD)

 

 

The NTD plays a key role in the management of an injury and how a claim is managed.  He or she assesses whether an injured worker is fit for work, and in what capacity. He or she can refer to various specialists for opinions and follow up.  It is a requirement for referral to most treatment providers such as psychologists, medical specialists and surgeons, to have been referred formally by the NTD.  Insurers must (unless they have good reason) support the recommendations for specialist referrals or treatment made by the NTD.

 

The medical certificate the NTD writes is a legal document that must be adhered to by all parties.  The employer must provide documented suitable duties consistent with the doctor’s certification.  The worker must attempt to perform them or risk having their benefits suspended.  

 

The workers compensation system is complex and not all doctors are familiar with all that is required of them.  Some do not like to undertake workers compensation work at all.  It is important when a injured worker chooses a NTD to be aware of these issues and chooses a doctor who:

  1. Is experienced as a GP generally
  2. Has experience with managing compensation claims
  3. Has empathy and understanding of the issues associated with workers compensation injuries
  4. The injured worker feels comfortable with
  5. Is efficient and organised.

 

Although employers may have a doctor they would like their staff to use, at the end of the day the choice of NTD is the injured workers.

 

When your injured worker sees their NTD

 

When the worker visits  their NTD, they are likely to be given paper work detailing their name, address, employment, and a history of what happened concerning injury.  Most surgeries have computer software that has relevant questions and forms to be completed by workers compensation patients.

 

The doctor will then examine the Injured worker and discuss the circumstances of their injury.  The injured worker is likely to be given feedback about what is wrong and what further investigations or treatment may be needed, as well as approximate times frames for recovery if the injury is relatively minor and straight forward.

 

The doctor may need to issue a medical certificate that states the worker is unfit to work for a given period or ideally a certificate may be given for selected duties. Selected duties need to be considered so they minimise the likelihood of further injury exacerbation that will alow the injury to heal.  Medications may be ordered or a referral made for treatment, for example physiotherapy with a sprain injury.

 

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