Communication the key to managing psychological/psychiatric injury

WorkCover Queensland has identified a steady rise in the number of psychological/psychiatric injury claims with over 4,050 new workers’ compensation claims lodged in 2013/2014 for this injury category across all industries.

Claim determination process

WorkCover Queensland Industry Manager Matthew Bannan said psychological/psychiatric injuries are complex and can have a substantial impact on both the worker and their employer’s business if not managed carefully.

“WorkCover’s core objective when managing psychological/psychiatric injury claims is to make fair decisions as soon as possible to minimise disruption to the worker’s life and their workplace,” Matthew said.

As part of the decision-making process, WorkCover must apply particular criteria and exclusions outlined in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 when assessing psychological/psychiatric injury claims.

WorkCover encourages consistent and regular communication between the injured worker, their employer and treating doctors / allied health professionals to ensure all parties understand the determination process and the information required to assess a claim.

“All parties to a psychological/psychiatric injury claim have a duty of care to communicate openly and honestly so that the injured worker can achieve a safe and early return to work,” Matthew said.

“The best thing a worker can do for their health and family is to minimise their time off work.”

Stay at work

WorkCover’s commitment to encourage staying and recovering at work wherever possible is backed by research from the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians that shows being off work for long periods of time can reduce the likelihood of a worker ever returning to work.

“This research paper highlights that work plays a vital role in rehabilitation because ‘doing’ promotes recovery,” Matthew said.

“Being in the workplace also helps a worker not to feel isolated from their colleagues, which can make them feel even worse.”

Keep in touch

If a worker is away from work, the best thing an employer can do is stay in touch and provide support and understanding to the worker.

“Our claims management experience shows that injured workers feel more valued and reassured about job security if their employer is engaged and takes a positive approach to their rehabilitation,” Matthew said.

“This means a quicker return to work for the worker and benefits for the employer including reduced claims costs and positive impacts on their premium.”

WorkCover’s guide to communicating with injured workers offers tips for employers on how to keep injured workers engaged and motivated to return to work from a psychological/psychiatric injury.

For more information on psychological/psychiatric injury claims, visit our dedicated webpage or call us on 1300 362 128.

Last updated
01 March 2016