The CEO of South Australia’s WorkCover Corporation, Rob Thomson, has participated in a long interview with the online newspaper inDaily on 1 June 2011. In the article Thomson addresses many of the recent criticisms of his organisation and the sole WorkCover agent, Employers Mutual Limited, but a telling OHS comment occurs in the last couple of paragraphs of the article:
“He took a simplistic approach to changing the culture and performance of the corporation, he said.
“What I am really trying to say is you need to get the right medical treatment and support for people if they are injured, and the best option is prevention.
“To me prevention is ultimately what this is all about. The fewer claims there are, the better it is for the employer, the worker, the rest of society.”
It is very positive that a CEO emphasises the importance of preventing injuries and it will be very interesting to watch the prevention initiatives that the WorkCover Corporation instigates. It is hoped that Rob Thomson is not thinking about the Commercial Kitchens Campaign that he recently launched. The most prudent and sustainable initiative would be to pool WorkCover’s resources with those of SafeWorkSA and coordinate prevention campaigns. At the moment is seems that the right hand does not do what the left hand is doing in this South Australian government sector.
South Australia’s workcover system appears to be the most reviewed of all State systems but it is important to see these reviews in a national context. In 2010 the Australian government began preliminary consultations with a limited range of stakeholders as part of its National Workers Compensation Action Plan 2010-2013. This strategy says:
“Workers’ compensation arrangements should be aimed at delivering consistent and improved responses to and management of work related injuries, illnesses and deaths.
Ultimately modifications to arrangements should aim to achieve a reasonable balance between the interests of employers and workers while, at the same time:
a. supporting effective and early return to work
b. providing fair compensation for work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths
c. reducing the overall social and economic costs to the community of work-related injuries, illness and fatalities, and
d. ensuring that employer costs are equitably distributed and contained within reasonable limits.
Currently inconsistent workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia are seen by many to lead to less equitable, effective, efficient, comprehensible and sustainable outcomes for workers and employers.”
If the trend in most Western countries following the global financial crisis is to reduce business costs and red tape, it would seem sensible to begin through better coordination of national and state review processes. It is reasonable to ask what status the various workers’ compensation review have during this national strategy period?