Strawberry farmers could be at risk of being uninsured

Strawberry and farming

Strawberry farmers across Queensland may be unaware of their obligation to insure their workers for workplace injuries.

During the month of September, WorkCover Queensland conducted a compliance and education roadshow across regional Queensland. Findings from the roadshow indicate that nearly half of the strawberry farms assessed were non-complaint.

WorkCover's assessment of the 41 farms visited found that only 23 had appropriate workers' compensation coverage for their workers. The remaining 18 were either uninsured or underinsured, leaving both employers and workers at risk.

WorkCover Queensland's September compliance education and awareness roadshow demonstrates the organisation's commitment to helping employers and contractors in regional Queensland better understand their workers' compensation obligations and address any potential areas of non-compliance.

Kylie Maras, WorkCover's Industry Manager for Agriculture said there might be a number of reasons for the high percentage of non-compliance. Employers may not be aware of their obligations to insure or they may not be aware some individual contractors, depending on how they are engaged, may still need to be covered.

'The agriculture industry attracts many seasonal and overseas workers which may make it unclear for employers to know whether to cover them for workers' compensation,' Kylie said.

'And individual contractors with their own ABN can further complicate the matter,' she said.

Being uninsured or underinsured exposes both the employer and worker to unnecessary risk. 'It's important to ensure the right cover is in place, not only for the wellbeing of workers but also to avoid potential penalties for the employer, should they be found to be uninsured or underinsured', Kylie said.

WorkCover Queensland is committed to increasing the awareness amongst strawberry farmers of the need to have the right cover in place. 'Educating and providing advice for employers is our focus. During the month of September, we visited 309 employers across a number of industries and more field visits and activities will be undertaken over the coming months to continue the education and awareness and help our agriculture employers,' Kylie said

'Our dedicated agriculture site provides a wealth of industry specific information, resources and guides to help employers with all their workers' compensation needs,' she said.

WorkCover Queensland's 150,000 businesses benefit from the lowest average premium rate in Australia ($1.20) and one of the nation's fastest return work rates with 96 per cent of injured workers returning to work within 12 months.

You can check to see if your contractors are 'workers' and should be covered by your WorkCover policy by using the ATO employee/contractor decision tool.

You can apply for a policy at any time using our online services, or read more about renewing your policy including information on what wages should be declared.

For more information on your rights and responsibilities and further details on who you should cover for workers' compensation, please see our website or call us on 1300 362 128.

Last updated
12 January 2017