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Demanding real change for workplace safety ahead of National Safe Work Month

News

National Safe Work Month, a federal government initiative to promote healthy and safe workplaces, is looming in October. As we acknowledge the need for greater safety measures, Attwood Marshall Lawyers Compensation Law Associate Henry Garrett takes a look at recent devastating cases involving Queensland workplace fatalities, and the urgent call for more government action to improve work safety.

Real change required to improve workplace safety

October will see us acknowledge National Safe Work Month, which couldn’t come at a more ironic time as news breaks of yet more Queensland fatalities in the workplace.  

This month, news headlines delivered another devastating story of the death of a 56-year old Gold Coast man who was killed on a worksite east of Brisbane.

The surveyor died at the scene after being crushed by a truck on Saturday 23 September on Cleveland-Redland Bay Road at Victoria Point.

The death was preventable and followed repeated warnings by unions about the necessity to update “outdated” regulations for heavy plant and equipment.

It was just over two weeks ago that thousands of building and construction workers protested at Parliament House to demand the government fix the dysfunctional WorkSafe Queensland. This action was taken to raise concerns about significant workplace health and safety issues in the construction industry.

If that isn’t enough bad news for one month, on Tuesday 26th September, a 17-year-old apprentice fell several metres at a Brisbane construction site, suffering serious head injuries. He later died at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on Wednesday after his life support was turned off.

The young apprentice’s grandfather posted on social media that no parent – or grandparent – should ever have to bury their child, “yet here we are”.

The worksite at the centre of this latest fatality had representatives at the CFMEU Construction Union share concerns only months earlier for unsafe workplace practices.

Unions and workers are speaking out, yet the government remains silent.

With 110 Australian workers losing their lives at work this year already (as at 14 September 2023), and 2021-22 data showing almost half a million workers injured on the job, so much more needs to be done immediately before more workers lose their lives or suffer significant injuries in the workplace.

National Safe Work Month 2023

One response from Safe Work Australia is National Safe Work Month, a nationwide initiative which has been running since 2009. This initiative is designed to raise awareness about the importance of work health and safety, best practice rehabilitation and return to work.

Throughout October, there are resources, conferences, and activities that businesses and workers can partake in to join the conversation and promote a health workplace, including:

    • The Work Well Conference in Brisbane on 17 October 2023
    • The Work Well Regional Information Sessions (Gold Coast on 3 October, Toowoomba on 11 October, Townsville on 18 October, Cairns on 19 October, Rockhampton on 23 October, Mackay on 31 October).
    • Work Well Speaker Series – these presentations are streamed online throughout October and presented by a range of professionals including former Socceroos and Brisbane Roar player and Captain Jade North, Maroons and Broncos coach Kevin Walters, Supercars presenter Riana Crehan, and Occupational Advisor Dr Sara Pazell, just to name a few. Some of the topics that will be covered include:
      • The impacts of workplace injury on families
      • Promoting workplace safety for young employees
      • Developing evidence-based and practice solutions for preventing harm in the workplace.

    Being healthy and safe relates to both physical and psychological health. The primary objective of National Safe Work Month is to encourage all workers and organisations to prioritise safety in their workplaces and work towards reducing the number of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.

    What to do if you are injured at work

    As a leading Compensation Law firm that has been helping injured workers for over 75 years to understand their rights and how to get treatment, financial support and compensation, we know how much your life can be turned upside down when injured on the job.

    Here, we answer the most frequently asked questions we receive from injured workers following a work-related injury or illness.

    Will my employer face consequences if I lodge a workers’ compensation claim?

    No, lodging a workers’ compensation claim does not mean you are suing your boss and claiming against their finances/assets directly.  Employers are legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees. In Queensland, this insurance covers injuries on the job, during work-related activities, or while commuting to or from work or attending work-related functions or training.

    A claim usually only results in an increase in the employer’s insurance premium.

    Is it worth lodging a WorkCover claim?

    Yes, it is worth making a claim if you need medical treatment or time off work due to your injury.

    Accessing workers compensation allows you to prioritize your health over work duties, allowing for proper rehabilitation without rushing back to work. If injured, report it to your employer, visit your GP for a treatment plan and referrals to any specialists/treaters, get a WorkCover medical certificate, and take necessary time off to avoid worsening your condition.

    It is always recommended to consult a personal injury lawyer promptly to obtain preliminary advice and/or protect your rights and follow the correct claims process.

    How much compensation will I get?

    It is risky and often impossible to predict your likely compensation amount upfront. Some firms may give rough estimates early on to attract clients, but the actual value depends on your recovery over time and evidence that is yet to be obtained (i.e. future medical reports). Various factors can affect your claim’s value, and lawyers can provide accurate estimates only when all evidence is available.

    Beware of law firms making big promises early on just to secure your business!

    What is ‘no-win, no-fee’ and how do costs work?

    ‘No-win, no-fee’ means the law firm shares the risk, earning fees only if your claim is successful and you receive compensation. Costs in legal matters typically include professional fees (for legal work performed) and disbursements (eg. evidence costs, outlays, administrative costs). This arrangement ensures that you don’t face a hefty legal bill if your claim fails, and you don’t have to pay any upfront costs to get your matter underway.

    Exceptions can apply in some cases, such as if you proceed to trial and lose your claim, potentially leading to costs being pursued by WorkCover for successfully defending your claim at trial. Most claims, however, are resolved prior to trial during informal negotiations between the parties or at out of court settlement conferences or mediations.  

    An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and advise you on the strength of your claim and when the benefits far outweigh the risks to pursue the claim.

    Attwood Marshall Lawyers – leading personal injury law firm

    When making a WorkCover claim, it is helpful to be supported by an experienced compensation lawyer who understands the insurance scheme, the claims process and the evidence required to ensure your claim can proceed as quickly and smoothly as possible.

    When represented by a competent compensation lawyer, you can take comfort knowing they are there to handle the day-to-day interactions and negotiations with the insurer, allowing you to focus on what matters most: your health, recovery and wellbeing.

    Attwood Marshall Lawyers offer a free case assessment to review your claim and explain what you can expect right from the start.

    Our lawyers have the experience to take on the big insurance companies and advocate for the rights of workers and their loved ones to get the outcome needed.

    We operate on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis for all workers’ compensation claims. For a confidential discussion about your specific circumstances, please call our Compensation Law Department on 1800 621 071 any time.

    Our team are available at any of our conveniently located offices at Robina Town Centre, Coolangatta, Southport, Kingscliff, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.

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    Henry Garrett - Associate - Compensation Law

    Henry Garrett

    Senior Associate
    Compensation Law

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    Disclaimer
    The contents of this article are considered accurate as at the date of publication. The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and is of a general nature only. Readers should seek legal advice about their specific circumstances. 

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