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Changes to Comcare’s workers compensation and self-insurance eligibility laws are before the federal parliament.

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 was introduced into parliament last week.

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 operating in two or more jurisdictions and that 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 more details, visit the Bill.

Published on 27 March 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The Federal Government announced this week that the moratorium on private corporations seeking to become self-insurers under the Commonwealth workers’ compensation scheme has been lifted.

The Former ALP government imposed the moratorium in 2007.

Private corporations can now submit an application to the Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz to determine if they are eligible to apply for a workers’ compensation self-insurance licence under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

To be eligible, applicants must satisfy the Minister that they are in competition with a current or former Commonwealth authority.

The minister may also consider other factors, including the likely impact of a self-insurance licence on employees and the corporation.

If a corporation is eligible, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission will then consider the suitability of the applicant to hold a licence.

For more details, visit the Department of Employment.

Published on 5 December 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Woolworths Ltd has failed in its bid to stop workers compensation being paid to an employee for a psychological injury.

The Workers Compensation Commission of New South Wales (WCC) heard that the employee had attempted suicide and was admitted to hospital as an involuntary patient following a meeting about his work performance with Woolworths in May 2009.

The employee then claimed compensation for major depression. He alleged it was caused by Woolworths’ failure to provide enough support for him to do his work, and harassment and bullying.

Woolworths disputed the liability, blaming the employee’s depression on drug dependency.

The company also claimed that any aggravation of his condition was the result of reasonable employer action.

The WCC found in favour of the employee and granted compensation.

Woolworths unsuccessfully appealed this decision.

The WCC said work was a substantial contributing factor to the employee’s injury and the company’s appeal was without merit.

For immediate help, call Lifeline on  13 11 14

For more details, visit the case

Published on 1 August 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Australian workers compensation schemes have paid out $7.4 billion in one year, says the latest report from Safe Work Australia.

The payments are tabled in the recently released report, Key Workers’ Compensation Information, Australia, and were made in the 2010–11 financial year.

Incapacity, permanent impairment and common law claims accounted for $4.09 billion of the payments.

The remainder comprised medical and other services (including rehabilitation) accounting for $1.71 billion, insurance operation costs $1.31 billion and other administrative costs $343 million.

In the same period, serious workers compensation claims alone totalled 127,330 and involved one or more weeks off work, permanent incapacity or fatality, the report adds.

For more details, visit the report.

Published on 1 August 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

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