Injuries at work are often reported based on their effect on employers and the economy – that is, the dollar cost in loss of productivity and work hours caused by the employee or employees being off work.

This focus can sometimes obscure the terrible and debilitating impact of a work injury on the employee. From the worry about their financial security as a result of being off work, to the psychological effects of social isolation and the possible need for family members to provide care and assistance at home, a work injury can create a wide ripple effect for an injured worker and their family.

If the injury is the subject of a workers’ compensation claim there is often additional worry caused by the requirements of medical appointments, collecting evidence, seeking legal advice and dealing with the decisions of insurance companies.

While injuries at work are on the decline on a year-to-year basis in Australia, Safe Work Australia found that there were still 130,195 serious claims (defined as accepted workers’ compensation claims for an incapacity that results in a total absence from work of one working week or more, excluding fatalities and journey claims) in 2019-20, resulting in median work time lost of seven weeks.

What sort of impacts can a work injury have?

A primary aim of Australia’s workers’ compensation schemes is to help injured workers return to work. But some injuries can take a long time to heal. Some work injuries can exacerbate earlier injuries, or worsen over time, or only emerge much later. Psychological injury can often be disguised or take a longer time to diagnose yet can end up being even more debilitating then a physical injury.

A workplace injury can lead to consequences not foreseen when the injury first occurred. Feelings of isolation, of uselessness, of distress and depression, are commonplace among injured workers. Studies have made the association between work injuries and an increased incidence of divorce and separation in the injured worker’s family, while another study found family members of people injured at work are 30 per cent more likely to be hospitalised in the three months after the injury than before.

The inability to live life in the same manner they did before is often underestimated in the case of workplace injury. Being unable to participate as they once did in sport, community or their children’s lives can be devastating for a person injured at work. Their former contribution to family life – cleaning, home maintenance, driving kids to sport – can all be impaired by the injury, with flow-on effects for their mental health.

Thankfully in Australia most people who experience an injury at work will have access to a range of support services – social workers, psychologists, GPs and other community-based services.

Making a workers’ compensation claim

The aim of workers’ compensation schemes is to provide safety net for injured workers, helping them with the financial stress of being off work while they recover. In this respect a workers’ compensation claim can compensate for an injured worker’s lost wages, medical expenses, rehabilitation and other support services. If a worker is permanently impaired by their injury, compensation for their permanent impairment may be possible in the form of a lump sum.

These claims occur in a changing world for workers. Physical injuries in workplaces are on a long-term decline but mental health problems and psychological injuries are increasing. Employment is less secure for many people – more people work on contracts or through labour hire. All of these factors can exacerbate a work injury and cause additional stress for the employee.

If you’ve been injured or become ill as a result of work and need advice either on how to manage your recovery or begin a workers’ compensation claim, speak with our compensation experts at Gajic Lawyers. We will take the stress off you at a time of high anxiety and help navigate the recovery and claims process. Contact us today for an initial consultation. We have an Experience team of compensation lawyers who can assist you in PerthAdelaideCabramatta & Parramatta. Get legal advice from us today!