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What to do if you are injured at work?

Every employee has the right to a safe and healthy workplace under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (‘Act’). All employers have a duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace and to consult with their employees about health and safety issues.

At first glance, schools may not appear to contain the same obvious risks and hazards as workplaces such as factories or construction sites, but this does not mean that they are hazard free.

The inconspicuous nature of many of the risks to health and safety found within a school environment can lead to them being ignored and becoming all the more dangerous and damaging over the long-term.

Common risks in schools include excessive or unpredictable workloads, interaction with unpredictable or volatile students, bullying, inadequate breaks, and the potential rapid spread of illness.

All of these hazards present the very real risk of injury.

Injuries in the workplace can be broadly classified into three categories:

  1. Psychological injuries
    caused by hazards such as work-related stress, bullying, excessive workload or the perceived risk of physical injury.
  2. Physical injuries
    caused by hazards such as manual handling or slips, repetitive strains, physical violence, trips and falls.
  3. Diseases
    caused by exposure to contagions or hazards such as asbestos and mould.

So, what should you do if you are injured at work?

  1. Seek medical treatment.
  2. If you are required to seek medical attention, it is your right to attend your own doctor.
  3. The IEU advises members not to attend the employer’s doctor, and recommends you see your own GP, or specialist. You also have the right to meet the doctor on your own, and to have the employer sitting in on the consultation.
  4. Your GP will provide you with a Work Capacity Certificate. The certificate will record the date of the injury, what occurred, the injury, time required of work, any work restrictions and medical treatment required.
  5. Your doctor must have input into the duties you can undertake throughout this process. The doctor should also have input into your return to work plan.
  6. You will be required to complete a Workers Compensation Claim Form. On the form, you will state if you are claiming medical expenses or income maintenance for the time you have off work. You may claim both.
  7. Report the injury through your workplace accident/incident reporting process.
  8. Contact the IEU to seek initial advice. We will refer you to one of our Industrial Officers to assist you with your claim.
  9. Keep records – this cannot be understated. Keep copies of reports made, make notes of conversations you have, and any witnesses to the incident. As the process proceeds, it is helpful to have kept a file /folder on your claim, as this saves time finding information. We would recommend that all records/notes and files be sent to, or stored on, your private computer or cloud storage.
  10. You should lodge your claim form, and work capacity certificate with your school as soon as possible.
  11. The compensating authority has 10 business days to determine your claim.
  12. There are times when the compensating authority are unable to determine your claim in the 10 days, due to them needing to undertake investigations or enquires to get the evidence needed to determine your claim. In this case, they must offer you interim payments.
  13. If your claim is approved, and you have suffered an injury that results in an incapacity for work, you will be entitled to weekly payments. You will be provided with a statement outlining the average weekly earnings that you will be paid, and you will be entitled to reasonable medical expenses and travel costs. (Remember to keep receipts and record travel.)
  14. A return to work plan must be developed if you are to be off work for more than 4 weeks.
  15. If your claim is rejected you have a right to have the decision reviewed through the SAET. Contact the IEU for industrial and legal support – 8410 0122 or

Dan Farmer
Industrial Officer