Working professionals, no matter what position you have or which industry you’re in, are not immune to accidents. Even if you have a nine-to-five office job and you sit at your desk all day, you can still face a workplace injury—maybe not physically, but possibly mentally and/or emotionally.
No matter how careful you are within the environment you work in, you are still at risk of experiencing an unwanted incident that can lead you to feel helpless. Unfortunately, what happens to you in your workplace isn’t always in your hands and could occur regardless of the nature of your work.
If you’re facing a serious injury in your workplace, especially where the injury has required you to take substantial time off work, you can (and should) request compensation through Queensland’s workers compensation scheme. It’s compulsory for employers in Queensland to be insured for when any worker received a work-related injury or illness (some exceptions apply). Because of this, seeking compensation is relatively easy. Generally, all you need to prove is that:
- you suffered a personal injury; and
- the personal injury arose out of or in the course of your employment.
If these two criteria are met, you should be entitled to make a workers compensation claim. You do not have to prove that it was someone else’s fault.
A workers compensation claim requires a doctor to provide you with a workers’ compensation medical certificate. Usually, the doctor will also assist you with lodging your claim with Workcover (Queensland’s most common workplace injury insurer). However, if not, you can make a claim online.
Once your claim is accepted, Workcover will pay you weekly benefits, cover the cost of your rehabilitation, and provide you with assistance returning to work. If your claim is rejected, you should seek advice from a workplace injury lawyer.
Even if your claim is accepted, you should still seek advice from a personal injury lawyer to help you determine whether you can make an additional common law claim which, if you’re eligible, almost always pays a significantly higher amount of compensation.
Keep reading below to find out some of the most common workplace injuries and what you can do to prevent them from happening to you.
Lower Back Pain From Improper Lifting
Lower back pain is one of the most common injuries that can happen to you in a manual labour type role, especially if you are required to lift heavy objects (or not so heavy objects but in an awkward position). Your work site shouldn’t require you to lift anything too heavy without appropriate assistance.
People whose jobs require them to sit behind a desk almost all day are at risk of experiencing pain in their lower back, which could lead them to take the day off. Picking up box of paper from the ground could also cause a lower back injury.
Fortunately, you can take the matter into your own hands and minimise the chances of getting lower back pain by:
- asking for help if you are ever required to lift or transport a heavy object, such as asking your employer to provide you with another set of hands from a co-worker, or a mechanical aid such as a dolly, trolley, or forklift
- reading up on ergonomic practices on achieving the proper sitting posture
- investing in reliable office equipment, including a comfortable desk and chair to maintain an ergonomic setup.
Neck Injury From Falling Object
Even if you aren’t working in the construction industry, that doesn’t mean you’re free from accidents that involve falling objects. If your work environment consists of scaling shelves and tall storage spaces, you will still have to stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings.
When a heavy object drops onto you it is likely to cause you serious pain to your neck (often referred to as the cervical spine). These injuries are serious enough to cause you to take time off work and entitle you to significant and necessary compensation. Employers and employees alike should always make sure their office is a safe space by:
- always being aware of your surroundings and not walking underneath dangerous areas where workers (especially workers with tools) may be above
- checking to make sure that all items stored at height are kept secure and away from the staff’s working area.
Feeling exhausted in the workplace isn’t unusual—but you should avoid it at all costs, as it can affect your health and place you in a dangerous spot that could lead to accidents causing injury to yourself or others.
Exerting too much effort at work could put a tremendous amount of pressure on your physical capabilities and result in straining a joint, or tripping over an obstacle you might usually be able to navigate. If you are in control of machinery, your fatigue may also cause an injury to your work mate if you are too tired to operate the machine properly. You should take regular breaks and avoid working to the point of overfatigue.
The same goes for the people around you. If you notice any of your peers working too hard, forgetting to eat their lunch, or not taking their breaks on time, you may want to step in and remind them that it is important not to overdo it!
Mental Health Issues
Apart from experiencing physical injuries at work, the amount of stress and anxiety you may feel due to the nature of your role (especially if you’re overworked) could significantly affect your mental health and cause stress, anxiety or depression. It usually doesn’t matter if you have been previously diagnosed with a psychological disorder.
Facing too much pressure in the workplace can place a negative impact on your well-being. However, a employers can prevent unhappy employees by making the workplace safe, supportive with good check-in and reporting policies in place, and being accepting of mental health conditions.
Workplace injuries come in various forms, be it from improper lifting, a falling object, overfatigue, or a psychological disorder. Employees need to know their limits—because if they don’t, they are bound to experience an injury sooner or later. If you’re suffering from an injury and your employer is making life difficult for you, you should make a workers compensation claim and seek advice from a compensation lawyer urgently.