Wednesday 25th July 2012
Like many nurses injured at work, Anne-Margaret Jeppesen, RN at Blacktown Hospital, will need a lifetime of treatments and medication.
“I went to the rally because i believe that if things are not going right in the industry it’s important that people speak up. If something’s wrong you have to do something about it. If you sit on the fence nothing gets changed.
“I’ve been to hell and back several times with a number of back, shoulder and neck injuries starting from 1985. I had three femoral hernia repairs and femoral nerve damage, followed by a lumbar disk prolapse.
“When I first got injured there were no light duties for nurses then so you just had to keep going and make the best of it.
“I am now doing an admin job because I’m not fit for bedside nursing – I can’t work above shoulder height or lift more than five kilograms, for example.
“In my experience, once you are injured nobody looks after you at work – you are on your own. However, I’ve been very happy with the backup from the Nurses’ Association. I used the Association solicitors a few times to resolve some workers’ comp problems.
“I’m now working full time so I no longer rely on workers’ compensation for income, but it still covers my treatments and medication. It’s not a lot of money but it’s a lot for me.
“The new legislation puts a one-year cap on payment of medical expenses so my financial situation will be worse, especially after I retire.”
Changes are retrospective
According to a government briefing, the “changes to weekly benefits, medical costs and duration [of payments] are to apply as soon as possible to existing claims” and “changes to lump sum compensation are to apply to existing claims from the date of the legislation’s introduction”.
Most payments will cease after 2.5 years
Most workers’ payments will cease after 2.5 years, unless there is total incapacity for work. Payments will then cease for those with total incapacity after five years, unless there is 20% whole person impairment. Previously, payments continued until you could return to work – or until retirement.
Cover during travel retained in limited form
Workers injured when travelling are only covered “if there is a real and substantial connection between the employment and the accident or incident out of which the personal injury arose”.
Cuts to medical expenses cover
Medical and other expenses are only paid for maximum of one year from the date a claim is made, or weekly payments cease, whichever is longer.
Restrictions on cover for occupational disease
Disease is only to be covered where employment is “the main contributing factor”, rather than previously where it could be one of a number of contributing factors
Partners’ claims for nervous shock abolished
Currently the spouse, partner or direct relative of someone who has died in a workplace accident can access some cover if they are diagnosed as having nervous shock as a result, and, for example, are unable to work for a period of time. This Bill abolishes that type of claim.