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The doctor in the Pel-Air plane crash near Norfolk Island has been awarded $959,478 in the Supreme Court of NSW.

In November 2009, Dr David Helm and nurse Karen Casey were working for CareFlight, transporting a seriously ill patient and her husband from Samoa to Melbourne on a plane operated by Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd when it crashed near Norfolk Island.

Helm sustained scratches, bruising and multiple soft tissue injuries and an injury to his spine. He returned to work at CareFlight on modified duties. Over time the pain in his back worsened. He will never recover from his injuries, which have not only affected his work but also his study, his ability to interact with his children and his leisure pursuits.

He sued Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd in the Supreme Court of NSW and last week was awarded $959,478.

Casey, who was more severely injured than Helm, also successfully sued Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd, however, the decision on the amount of damages to be paid has been adjourned until 1 July.

For more details, visit the ruling and the award

Published on 18 June 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

Lifetime care and support options for people who suffer a catastrophic injury from a workplace incident are now on the table.

The federal government has released a consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) to canvass the cost benefit impact of the regulatory options of introducing a National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS).

The RIS includes the case for introducing minimum benchmarks, retaining existing workers compensation arrangements or harmonising workers compensation schemes.

“Under the minimum benchmarks all workers will be entitled to lifetime care and support regardless of their age, and workers will not need to navigate two schemes,” according to the RIS.

“The costs of the increased entitlements would be paid by employers through increased premiums under the minimum benchmarks. Per workplace, the increase in premiums would be modest and would reflect the increased funding necessary to provide lifetime care and support.”

Under the option of retaining the existing workers compensation arrangements, workers compensation premiums would not change. “[As] a result, the incentive for employers to address workplace safety is arguably reduced,” according to the RIS.

“Governments would fund the costs of topping up the care and support levels for those who are eligible for the NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme]. Workers aged 65 and over at the time of their accident would be unable to have their gaps in coverage provided by the NDIS.”

The harmonisation option is referred to in the RIS as “extremely difficult”. “To the extent that jurisdictions are able to reach agreement it would likely result in a watered down scheme where fewer workers are eligible and where eligible workers are entitled to lower service levels than occur under some existing schemes,” according to the RIS.

For more details, visit the RIS.

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.

A bill has been introduced into federal parliament to stop employers from leaving the Comcare scheme without contributing to the cost of current or future workers compensation liabilities.

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment (Exit Arrangements) Bill 2015 enables Comcare to set and collect “exit contributions” from former Commonwealth authorities and successors of former Commonwealth authorities before they leave the Comcare scheme. In addition, it can set and collect ongoing regulatory contributions from employers or successor bodies that have left the scheme.

The bill also provides for employees who are injured before their employer leaves the Comcare scheme to continue receiving rehabilitation.

Among other amendments, the bill clarifies that premiums for current Commonwealth authorities and entities should be based on the principle that current and prospective liabilities should be fully funded by Comcare-retained funds.

For more details, visit the bill

Published on 12 March 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

Changes to Comcare’s workers compensation and self-insurance eligibility laws have passed the House of Representatives and are now in the Senate.

As reported in an earlier Safe-T-Bulletin, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced into the House of Representatives in March this year.

In May the bill was referred to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee, where in July the Government members recommended that the bill pass and the ALP and Green members rejected it.

Following debate in the House of Representatives last week, the bill was passed and is now being debated in the Senate.

As indicated in the earlier e-bulletin, under the bill, Comcare will no longer pay workers compensation for injuries that occur during recess breaks away from an employer’s premises.

Nor will it pay compensation for death or serious and permanent impairment if the person killed or injured engaged in serious and wilful misconduct.

The bill also removes the need for the Minister of Employment to declare a corporation’s eligibility to be granted a self-insurance licence. Corporations can go straight to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) to apply for the licence. Nevertheless, the Minister can still direct the SRCC.

Corporations that are operating in two or more jurisdictions, and meet the workers compensation obligations in these jurisdictions, can apply to join the Comcare scheme. Also, group licences can be granted to related corporations.

Corporations granted a self-insurance licence will also be covered under the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

For details visit the bill

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

A $500 safety rebate is on offer for commercial estuary fishers operating in New South Wales.

“The rebate allows fishers to claim up to $500 towards the cost of purchasing and installing eligible safety equipment, including Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), if they are operating as a sole trader or employ 50 or fewer employees and commercial estuarine fishing is their main business,” former NSW Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance said in a media statement.

To be eligible for the rebate, fishers must have a WorkCover NSW officer visit them to discuss workplace safety; hold a current commercial fishing licence with endorsements for estuary general fishery issued by the NSW Department of Primary Industries; have an Australian Business Number (ABN) that states the main business location as NSW; and, if relevant, have a NSW workers compensation insurance policy.

“Rebates do not cover GST, freight or insurance, second-hand items or repairs and service,” WorkCover added in a media statement.

For more detail, visit the rebate information.

Published on 23 April 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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