Discussion paper on Queensland workers compensation released

The Queensland Government has released a public discussion paper into its workers’ compensation scheme.  Obviously this was part of the reason for the political argy-bargy in the State in late February 2010 over a report by Deloitte.

A major question posed in the discussion paper concerns the application of Whole Person Impairment (WPI) or Work-Related Impairment (WRI) as the assessment process.  Currently only Queensland applies WRI and so the submissions to this discussion process may be quite useful in anticipation of the any review into the national workers’ compensation arrangements.  If good and persuasive arguments are made, WRI could become a tool the Federal Government could use to shake-up the system but with parameters insurers are already familiar with.  Similarly, for the sake of national consistency WPI could be accepted by Queensland.

The decision will be a difficult one as evidence for the merits of both processes will be presented.  Politically, the Government will be needing to decide whether it is a follower or a leader on this matter.

Any change does not necessarily help safety managers and professionals who are trying to keep people safe and, therefore, to minimise their involvement with the workers’ compensation system, but having work as “the major significant contributor”  in common law claims would be reassuring to many OHS professionals as they are less likely to have to deal with those messy non-work impacts such as family issues, obesity, and in the broadest sense, those work/life balance issues.

However, very few OHS professionals understand or lobby on behalf of workers’ compensation changes or see OHS, rehabilitation and compensation as the cycle it needs to be recognised as for good safety management systems to operate.  It would seem sensible for OHS people to analyse the discussion paper to see which options will make their injury prevention role more integrated with rehabilitation and compensation…… And to see how the workers’ compensation system will make it easier to reintroduce rehabilitating workers into the general workforce again.

The discussion paper, if nothing else, also provides a very up-to-date chronology of workers’ compensation in Queensland and a terrific comparison chart of “key worker’s compensation scheme indicators” for each Australian State.  The latter may also be very useful for those workers’ compensation system fans in other countries.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

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