WorkCoverSA CEO faces hard tasks as new report damns WorkCover’s performance 7

Late April 2011 is becoming a period of turmoil in the South Australia’s WorkCover Corporation, on top of the government’s political turmoil from the sudden resignation of the Industrial Relations Minister, Bernard Finnigan, and a minister being charged with child pornography offences.  According to inDaily on 21 April 2011, WorkCover’s Deputy CEO, Jeff Matthews, and Chief Financial Officer, Ian Rhodes, left the organisation suddenly.  CEO Rob Thomson (ex-Workcover New South Wales) says that the positions were axed as part of a restructure.

On 27 April 2011, the most recent review into WorkCover’s operations was released.  The March 2011 report finds that the state’s workers compensation scheme

“…shows little evidence of improved return to work performance, in spite of very heavy referrals to and cost of vocational rehabilitation compared to comparable scheme.” More…

Online media slams Workcover SA report 5

Online newspaper, Indaily, has released a report by DeakinPrime which summarises a November 2010 summit conference on workers compensation.  DeakinPrime facilitated the summit

InDaily focuses on the following criticisms, amongst others, from the report:

  • a silo approach by Workcover
  • the lack of feedback
  • injured workers were not the prime consideration of Workcover
  • politicisation was leading to instability
  • a disassociated claims management process.

These criticisms are present in the full report  but the presence of criticisms should not surprise as the nature of these summits are usually twofold – the creation of innovative solutions and an avenue for complaint.  More…

Success from enlightenment not compliance 5

An article in the InDaily online newspaper for 4 April 2011 provides several safety management issues that are worth pondering. (Thanks to the readers who brought the article to my attention)

Keith Brown was the CEO of South Australia’s Workcover Corporation earlier this century.  He has told InDaily that he lost his position due to a change in the politics of the state and has not been welcome since. (A more personal perspective on Brown was provided by Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson in a January 2011 blog comment.)

Brown says that the most effective way of reducing the unfunded liabilities of workers compensation is to communicate with all stakeholders in the injury management process.  He believes that

“WorkCover now operates more to service the needs of the bureaucracy compared to the operation he ran for six years in favour of the clients.” More…

Daniel’s story 17

Below is an article submitted to SafetyAtWorkBlog as a comment several days ago.  After much deliberation I have decided to publish this as an article for the consideration of readers and in the hope that someone may be willing to provide some practical assistance to Daniel.

Daniel has provided a phone number and email address to SafetyAtWorkBlog.  Please contact the Editor if you are able to help.

“This is my story. I have tried different other government departments last year to get some help all I have got is the runaround so I thought I would try here. I really don’t know how to word this or where to begin so I’ll start from 2003. I was working for a company here in Adelaide for about a year when I had an accident at work, a week later I was put on work cover my boss decided to get rid of me because I was no used to him anymore. I spent the next three years on work cover, setting at home and slowly going crazy I spent most of that three years fighting work cover to get them to do something to get me back to work but nothing ever happened. after losing my family and everything I had while I was on work cover,

“Finally I was offered redemption prayer out. It wasn’t much for the price I had to pay to be left with a permanent disability and plus I was suffering from depression from the time I spent on work cover I lost my identity as a person and felt completely demoralized. And feeling More…

Insurance company “fire-bomber” dies in custody 13

Almost 12 months ago, Paul Wayne Clarke “loaded a shopping trolley with jerry cans of fuel and set it alight inside a Darwin insurance office, injuring 15 people”.  Clarke died on 21 January 2011 after a failed suicide attempt whilst in custody.

On February 2010 media report provided a few details of Clarke’s circumstances:

“The bomber reportedly goes by the name “Bird” and is a former security guard who worked at a Darwin pub until being injured on the job in October 2007.

He allegedly blamed the insurer for loss of earnings that forced him to leave his three-bedroom home in Humpty Doo and move into a shipping container.”

The incident was enormously traumatic for the 15 staff and customers of the Territory Insurance Office (TIO) who were injured by the incident.

The Coroner will be investigating Clarke’s death but the motivation for Clarke’s initial actions against TIO will remain a mystery.  More…

Mental health research broadens the workplace context Reply

Professor Tony LaMontagne is an Australian researcher and academic whose work always deserves careful consideration.  LaMontagne has been mentioned several times in SafetyAtWorkBlog.  The significance of his work is that it is not centred on occupational health and safety but has a major relevance nevertheless.

On the eve of Victoria’s Mental Health Week, LaMontagne has released a report, co-authored with Dr Kristy Sanderson, entitled “Estimating the economic benefits of eliminating job strain as a risk factor for depression”.  A more detailed article on the report will be on this blog in the next few days but there are a couple of notable points in the research.  Firstly, the study places job strain in the broader social context and not limited to the workplace, workers’ compensation, wellness or OHS. In this way, he is promoting a social agenda that has great potential. More…

Small business OHS seems to be stalled 14

OHS research into why the small business sector does not “get” safety has been occurring in Australia for over ten years with some of the most useful being undertaken by Dr Claire Mayhew.  But the challenge, or problem, persists.

On 4 October 2010, WorkSafe Victoria released some information about an OHS blitz by inspectors on small businesses in Mildura, a rural town in the extreme northwest of Victoria.  In some ways, the tone of the media statement is a little defeatist or, at least, exasperated.

“Although we wrote to the businesses and told them we would be visiting, we still had to pull them up on a high number of health and safety issues,” Manufacturing and Logistics Director Ross Pilkington said.  “In many cases, the safety solutions were straightforward.” More…

WorkCover and Suicides 2

In response to a recent post about Workplace Suicides, Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson provided a lengthy comment that I believe deserves a post of its own:

The hardest funeral to say “a few words” at is the funeral of a suicide victim.

The hardest thing to do is look into the hearts of the family and friends of the person in the coffin and try to find a glimmer of hope to gift them to hold onto.

The hardest thing to cope with is knowing that the loved one in the coffin held onto life with both hands until the harshness of life within the WorkCover system became too much to cope with. More…

Death at work differs from work-related death 4

Often immediately following an incident, the safety manager receives a brief phone call “There’s been an accident.” Information is scarce and, in my experience, often wrong or more fairly inadequate. in OHS there will always be an assumption that an injury or death is work-related as that is our patch but people die every day and they can die anywhere, even in your workplace. Is this a workplace incident? Yes. Is it an occupational incident? not necessarily.

It is vital in those first moments of confusion and panic, not to jump to conclusions and rush out to the incident site. If it is your responsibility you will become involved but often, by asking a few simple questions, you are able to avoid this confusion and avoid worsening the situation by “butting in” where you are not needed.

I was reminded of this when reading about a coronial inquest into two suicides that occurred at an Australian shooting range in October 2008. These two incidents occurred at a workplace but not from work-related activities. There may have been some workplace management issues that, in hindsight, relate to supervision or security but these are the type of issues that the Coroner will investigate.

The deaths are reportable to the OHS regulators as they occurred on a workplace but it is unlikely that the regulator will put a lot of resources into the investigation given the Police and Coroner are investigating.

School principals seek solutions to workplace stress 3

Recently SafetyAtWorkBlog reported on stress issues in Tasmanian teachers.  Victorian data has been revealed of stress in the education profession through The Age newspaperr on 6 July 2010.   Apparently stress claims for school principals have cost $A2.4 million since 2005.

One principal said the claims are likely to be under-reported as a stress claim can kill one’s career.

For the purposes of this blog, control measures or causes need to be identified.  The Age article said that principals have asked the Education Department to consider the following issues.  It is reasonable to assume that these have been identified by the principals as contributory factors to workplace stress. More…