How to overcome unusual workers compensation claims

Every year, hundreds of thousands of workers compensation claims are filed in Australia.

The majority of claims are common in areas such as labouring, machinery operation, manufacturing and construction.

However, while workers compensation claims should not be taken lightly, sometimes there are unusual claims which on first impression may seem too bizarre to be true.

Here are some examples of some of the most bizarre claims and lessons that can be learned to safeguard your workplace.


Home-Based Worker Trips Over Dog

A home-based decorator walked into her garage when she tripped over her dog and fractured her wrist.

Because she was retrieving fabric samples that were stored for work from her garage to her van, her home was considered a work environment. However, the initial claim was rejected.

The appeals court overturned the ruling, eventually deeming it as a work task. As a result, compensation was awarded.

How to Prevent it

Falls, trips and slips make up 22.4% of workers compensation claims, with 9,935 claims relating to fractures.

Employees can prevent some of these incidents by managing risk and eliminating hazards. Good lighting, proper footwear, risk awareness, clutter-free environments, fforward-thinkingand unobstructed views are all critical to minimising potential problems.



Man Breaks Hip on Vending Machine

When a man tried to help his co-worker retrieve a bag of chips from the workplace vending machine, the good deed resulted in an injury.

In the attempt, the vending machine was bumped hard enough to fracture the worker’s hip, eventually resulting in a successful workers compensation claim.

How to Prevent it

All workplace equipment must be regularly checked for faults. This includes all machinery, even if you’re not directly responsible for it. Vending machines, for example, are usually managed by an external business.



Breast Reduction Surgery Claim

An Australian worker at the ATO attempted to claim $20,000 for a breast reduction. Ironically, the legal battle cost taxpayers more than $100,000.

The woman claimed she needed the surgery as treatment for neck and shoulder pain, which had caused her to gain weight and had increased her breast size from DD to F. However, the claim was rejected when the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) ruled that exercise, rather than cosmetic surgery, would be a better and more practical solution.

Although it has been suggested breasts are becoming a health hazard, the woman also had evidence of undergoing previous plastic surgery, which didn’t help the case.

How to Prevent it

Establishing a healthy work culture is critical. However, it’s up to employees to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing too.

This can be through regular exercise, good diets and adequate rest. Employees who suffer regular chronic pain or back and neck problems should keep their workplace in the loop and ensure the condition is correctly managed with their doctor.



6 Year Battle for Lawn Mowing Compensation

A clerk working for the Australian Bureau of Statistics filed a claim when he was unable to mow his lawn anymore due to psychological injury.

The injury was said to be sustained from being bullied and harassed at work, which plagued the man with fatigue, dizziness and breathlessness.

He received a garden maintenance allowance until late 2012, but later payments were rejected because he had family members who could then mow instead.

How to Prevent it

The effects of workplace bullying are very real. Half of Australian employees will experience bullying throughout their careers, impacting victims, co-workers and company profits.

Workplaces can prevent this by promoting a positive culture with zero-tolerance of bullying, understanding what bullying looks like and identifying targets. Training should also be provided to managers and employers so they’re able to investigate and handle complaints effectively.



Manager Saves Fries, Injuries Neck

A Virginia fast-food manager working at McDonalds was awarded compensation after she injured her neck saving a batch of French fries.

The incident was an accident. In her attempt to catch the food before it hit the floor, the woman claimed she heard a pop in her neck and felt instant pain.

McDonalds initially denied the claim. However, she received a financial payout. Typically, bending over at work is not a sufficient claim for compensation. This case was ruled in her favour because it was a combination of movements, such as bending, jerking and twisting to act quickly that resulted in the injury. The woman also claimed she was under pressure to serve customers fast and not waste food.

How to Prevent it

Although incidents like this can happen as an impulse reaction, employees are always encouraged to put their health and safety first. Sudden movements can be prevented by working at a safe pace, paying attention to the risks around you and ensuring adequate staff are on shift.



How to Make a Workers Compensation Claim

There are multiple types of compensation available for workplace injuries. Weekly payments, medical expenses and assistance payouts may be awarded.

If you believe you have suffered a workplace injury, it’s critical you report it as soon as it happens. You will also need to:

  • Notify your employer and doctor immediately
  • Follow up with your employer and doctor
  • Follow any advice given to you by your doctor
  • Keep a track record of any symptoms, dates and information relevant to the case
  • Wait until you hear from the claims administrator

It may also be beneficial to engage with a reputable broker/insurance company to help you navigate the claims process and ensure your claim is resolved as soon as possible

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