Mining workplace injuries drop for fourth year in a row

Mining statistics

The mining industry has seen another drop in workers’ compensation injury claims in the last year, continuing the falling injury trends seen in the last four years.

In mining in Queensland, 1,223 injury claims were lodged in 2015-16 financial year – a 15% fall compared to the previous year, with a $5 million drop in workers’ compensation payments compared to 2015-16. This reflects the contracting mining industry, and echoes the trend seen in previous years.

Over the last four years, workers’ compensation claims in the mining industry have fallen by 51%.

A reduction in the number of days it takes the average injured worker to return to work is also falling, pleasingly, and is just under 60 days. But this is still high compared to other industries, which is understandable given the nature of many mining jobs.

WorkCover Queensland Customer Service Manager, Mining, Matt Cross said it’s really important that claims are lodged as soon as possible so that workers can get the right treatment, early, to help them on the road to recovery.

A challenge for the mining industry is finding meaningful suitable duties that allow workers to return to work in some capacity until they are fit to return to their normal duties. This means they can get back to work more quickly, and stay connected to their workplace, and their colleagues.  

Fit for work – focus on what you can do

One initiative which can help support the conversations with suitable duties with doctors, workers and workplaces is the new Work Capacity Certificate. This certificate has replaced the previous Workers’ Compensation Medical Certificate. The new certificate has been introduced to assist doctors and injured workers to focus on what workers can do at work rather than what they can't.

The work capacity certificate promotes:

  • an injured workers ability and focuses on what they can do
  • early return to work
  • rehabilitation and provision of suitable duties
  • health benefits of good work

The work capacity certificate was developed with the input of workers’ compensation scheme stakeholders. It became effective from 1 July 2016, with full implementation on 1 January 2017. This six month period allows time for medical practitioners to transition from the previous workers’ compensation medical certificate to the new work capacity certificate.

Matt says that the doctor’s role is essential in ensuring patients have a successful and positive return to work. He encourages supporting your worker in their doctors visit by attending with them in person, if possible. If this isn’t possible, a conversation with the doctor to discuss alternative duties while they’re recovering may help the doctor understand what the worker will be able to do at work.

“It’s worth discussing what they are managing to do in day to day living, such as driving a car, sitting, standing or any weight limits. How they move and get around at home can give a good indication of the movements or activity they may be able to manage in the workplace.”

 “At times, workers will visit their doctor and not realise what alternative work options are available to them. They’ll tell the doctor what they currently do, which may mean the doctor signs them off work. Instead, the discussion needs to be around what the worker can do, not what they can’t. This is what the new work capacity certificate has been designed to do,” Matt said.

You can find out more about the new work capacity certificate at www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/medicalsupport.

Last updated
01 June 2017