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Home » Employers » More Useful Information » Workplace Health and Safety and Injury Management

Workplace Health and Safety and Injury Management: What This Means For Small To Medium Size Businesses


Some Points Employers Need To Consider:


  1. About 1,725,000 employees Workplace Health and Safety is strongly influenced by an employer who will have less than 20 staff
  2. More than half of these businesses will have less than 10 staff
  3. Most of these businesses will not have the time, focus or resources to fully understand all that is involved in Workplace Health and Safety and may or may not have the best policies and procedures for injury prevention
  4. WHS will often not be a major consideration - but rather something that has to be adhered to prevent fines
  5. Most of these businesses will not have the knowledge, expertise and at times the right attitude to effectively support an injured worker back to worker
  6. Many business owners or their managers will be focussed upon issues of business survival increasing competitiveness, customer service, improving systems etc. and will only seriously look at injury prevention reactively - after something has gone wrong.
  7. Most small business owners will ignore or expect “experts” will guide and support them if they need help - after all they are playing significant insurance premiums
  8. Many small business do not really consider or understand what the consequences of a serious workplace injury can be; for them.  They are unaware or only partly aware.
  9. Most business owners or their managers do not really understand the effect of and their WHS and injury management practices on premiums, they also don’t know or consider:


  • The effect on productivity of an injured worker
  • The effect on other staff from extra work load,
  • The attitude displayed to the injured worker and morale
  • Company reputation
  • The overall health consequences physically and psychologically of most workplace injuries unless they are minor and a full recovery is made within a  month
  • The effect on the family of the injured worker – through lost wages, inability to do things at home
  • Time required to deal with all the issues
  • The estimated total economic costs of work related injury and illness for the 2005 – 2006 Financial Year in Australia was $57.5 billion, 5.6% of the Australia Gross Domestic Product.
  • Employers' policy obligations



Clearly,  there are many very good reasons for WHS and Injury Management to be taken seriously in workplaces. Although extensive research into injury prevention and management has resulted in improving practices and reduced injury rates overall, not all employers or their staff consider it very important.  Consequently legislation in all states has strong deterrents for those employers who don’t do what they are supposed to.


An example is cited below of an employer's major premium-related obligations under the NSW Workers Compensation Act 1987 and some of the penalties that can be imposed if you do not fulfil your obligations being:


  • An employer must have (and maintain) a workers compensation insurance policy (section 155). The penalty is currently $55,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both
  • An employer who fails to obtain, or maintain in force, a policy of insurance, may be charged double the premium that would have been payable (section 156)
  • An employer must provide correct information to their insurer. If an employer evaded payment of correct premium(s) by providing false or misleading information, the insurer may apply to WorkCover to recover from the employer double the evaded premium(s) plus a late payment fee (section 175)
  • If WorkCover is entitled to recover an amount from a corporation under section 175A (even if the corporation has ceased to exist) and the amount is not recoverable, the directors of the corporation may be personally liable
  • An employer must keep records of the remuneration they pay their workers (and contractors deemed to be workers) and all information used to calculate their workers compensation premium. Employers must keep these records in good order and condition for at least five years. The penalty is currently $55,000 (section 174)
  • When an inspection by a Scheme Agent or a WorkCover-authorised person reveals a significant understatement of wages by an employer (understated by 25 per cent or more), the Scheme Agent or WorkCover is entitled to recover from the employer the costs incurred in connection with that inspection (section 174A)
  • An employer who fails to provide a wage estimate or declaration may be fined either $500 or prosecuted up to $2200 (clause 130, Workers Compensation Regulation 2003)
  • If requested, an employer must provide access to their Certificate of Currency. Failure to do so, or altering the Certificate of Currency, will incur penalties of $5500 (section 163A).


Reference:  Workcover  NSW 


Since the new Act was passed in NSW there is renewed emphasis on employers doing their part in getting injured workers back to work  and there are significant penalties if they do not. see below

  • WorkCover inspectors are now authorised to issue employer ‘Improvement Notices’ if they believe the employer is not meeting their obligations in this regard.
  • In addition, it is an offence for the employer if they fail to meet their obligations, subject to a penalty of up to $11,000.

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