|Issue No 122||07 December 2001|
Letters to the Editor
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I live in a semi-industrial street. Every day I see employers breaching basic occupational health and safety guidelines.
On my way to and from work the story is the same.
At work, (I'm employed by the NSW government in the electorate of the Minister for Public Works) there is "no money" to renovate an aging building or repair hazzards. Yesterday the cover on a large fluorescent light fell from the ceiling and shattered, narrowly missing some people standing nearby.
What is the Carr government doing to make workplaces safer? Nothing!
What is it doing to contain workers' compensation costs? Punishing the victims of employer negligence.
I have just finished examining the changes to the statutory workers compensation provisions in the new Act passed last week in relation to permanent impairment claims.
I am not a lawyer, but presently work on behalf of injured workers for a law firm, and previously worked in the coal mining industry for management in an Insurance Risk role. At that time I was a member of the Aust. Collieries Staff Assoc. I have always given strong support to injured workers.
How could the workers of NSW allowed themselves to be so thoroughly screwed by the legislative changes. Not only have Common Law rights for negligence gone out of the window, but the statutory scheme for permanent injury has been totally gutted.
As many other more eminent persons have previously addressed the common law issue, and, in reality, it applies to very few injured workers, I would like to speak to the more common issue of permanent injury (sections 66 & 67).
The amendment to s.66 contained in the Workers Compensation Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2001 takes benefits for permanent injury compensation back before s.16 of the 1926 Act.
By way of a hyperthetical example under the present legislation;
- trip-over at work, buggered-up shoulder; say 20% permanent loss of use of dominant arm. Lump sum compensation (s.66) would be $16,000, together with aditional compensation for pain & suffering, being over the present threshold, say a further $9,000 to $12,000 depending on age.
TOTAL LUMP SUM COMPENSATION $25,000 TO $28,000.
Under the new s.66 provisions now passed, a whole of body (WOB)assessment of a 20% loss of the dominant arm would probably equate to approximately 5%. But the guidelines for WOB assessments have not yet been released and I am only guided by the AMA guidelines for motor vehicle accidents in this regard.
But for a 5% WOB assessment, the benefit is:
TOTAL LUMP SUM COMPENSATION $6,250
with no ability to claim for pain & suffering, loss of amenity of life, stress etc unless the permanent impairment gets above 10% WOB.
The injured worker after 1/1/02 is, with a stroke of an executive pen, worse off by approximately $20,000 in lump sum compensation for his/her injury in this instance.
And that is without passing any comment on the quality of the Doctors who are going to be providing binding assessments under the AMS system to resolve claims of this nature. That is another story.
I have never before in my 19 years of working with injured workers, from both sides of the fence, seen such a tradgedy as this present legislation which has now been passed by Parliament.
And the new provisions in relation to commutation stink as well, but that is another story as well.
I would be pleased to speak to this topic further if requested.
Interview: Reality Bytes
Labor's IT spokeswoman Kate Lundy on how a third Howard Government will hurt the IT industry.
Unions: My Way or the Highway
Since 1997, workers employed by Serco/Great Southern Railways, have been locked in a struggle with their employer to have their choice of industrial instrument recognised.
Legal: Three Degrees of Contract
Marian Baird argues there is a need to more fully understand what workers, employers and our society expect from the employment relationship.
International: Bogota Terror
The assassination of a Colombian unionist has prompted international outrage.
History: Freedom or 'Federation'?
Mark Hearn and Greg Patmore argue that the journey to federation was not a one-way street.
Health: Wearing the Right Genes to Work?
Matt Brooks tracks the DNA trail to discover genetic testing in the workplace is already here.
Satire: Demidenko Releases New Book About Her Life As Afghan Refugee
Controversial author Helen Demidenko has written a brand new novel based on her gripping true life experiences as an Afghan refugee.
Review: Can Blinky Bill Save Unions?
Neale Towart browses the kiddies' shelves to find an Australian icon with a union-friendly message.
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