Mental health and remote work impact workers’ compensation claims

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 9 November, 2020 - 12:45
Industry news
National News

A recent Safe Work Australia analysis has found that 533 workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 were lodged in Australia as of 31 July 2020, and 34 per cent of these claims related to mental health impacts of COVID-19.

A further 34 per cent of workers’ compensation claims lodged were from the health care and social assistance industry, while 17 per cent of workers’ compensation claims lodged were from the public administration and safety industry.

The data, which was collected from the relevant Commonwealth, state and territory workers’ compensation authorities, also found the ‘community and personal service workers’ occupation had the highest number of workers’ compensation claims.

A recent Comcare analysis also found there has been an increase in the number of working from home workers’ compensation claims during the period March to June 2020, when workplaces rapidly transitioned to home-based work in response to COVID-19.

The key causal factors behind the increase include workstation set up, falls and slip/trip incidents, soft tissue conditions caused by overuse and repetitive motions.

The number of working from home claims received was 25 in this period, compared to 0 during the same period in 2018-19.

The majority of the 25 home-based work claims received (88 per cent) are related to injury or physical disease.
Regardless of the work environment, Comcare said employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of workers, and workers have obligations to follow the organisations safe work policies and procedures, notifying their employer of any hazards or potential risks.
Employers should implement a range of strategies to ensure the safety of their home-based workers, including:

Comcare said employers should follow Safe Work Australia’s current health and safety information for their industry.