Making a WorkSafe claim for psychological injury
Psychological injury within the workplace is on the increase, and will likely accelerate as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic which sees many people now isolated from the human contact of the traditional office environment.
In this blog, I offer practical advice for those who think they may have a legal claim for support or entitlements from WorkSafe for psychological injury.
Our experience as lawyers helping people cope with and recover from a psychological injury in the workplace is that there is little support for workers, especially if their WorkCover claim is rejected.
Employees are regularly exposed to excessive workloads, poor workplace culture, bullying and harassment, exposure to critical incidents and non-compliance with company policies that can lead to sustaining a psychological injury.
Mental illness is inextricably linked to many work places, and this includes home offices.
Here are some recent statistics:
- In 2017, 3,128 people took their own lives in Australia, this is the highest recorded rate in Australia in the past 10 years. In 2018, preliminary data reports 3,046 people took their own lives
- The above rates are approximately x17 higher than fatalities at work
- 1 in 5 people employed in Australia will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime
- Safe Work Australia reports approximately $543 million is paid each year in workers’ compensation for work-related mental health conditions.
Steps in the right direction
Workplace mental health support is a relatively new concept and one of the major barriers for workers to putting their hand up and seeking support has been that workers did not want to jeopardise their standing at work or risk losing a potential promotion. The 2019-20 Federal budget takes the first steps to recognise the importance of workplace mental health support, including $11.5 million over four years for the National Workplace Initiative (NWI), an initiative of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, an alliance of 15 national organisations from the business, union, community and government sectors.
Psychological injury claims and WorkCover
As a general position, if your mental health has caused you to take regular sick leave or you are having regular treatment, you should lodge a WorkCover claim.
Unlike a physical injury at work, it is not always easy to demonstrate the cause of your psychological injury which is necessary in order to have your WorkCover claim to be accepted.
The law says that the onus is on the injured worker to notify appropriate colleagues and superiors that they are at risk of sustaining a psychological injury. This can be particularly difficult if it is those colleagues and managers that are the ones piling up work on your desk or who are doing the harassment or bullying.
A practical step: write things down
It can be vital to the success of your WorkCover claim that you have spoken to a doctor about your emotional problems and that you keep a diary of the time, date and details of what has occurred that has contributed to your injury.
It is also useful to document times when you have sought support, and keep a record of the responses you receive. If you make a claim for workplace psychological injury but it is ultimately rejected, you should seek legal advice immediately.
Free initial assessment, no up front charge
Unlike many other law firms, at RCT Law, we offer free WorkCover assessment of your WorkCover claim for compensation, with no up front charge.
In my experience, relief from and eventual recovery from psychological injury is very possible. With the right professional advice and a supportive lawyer, you can relieve the financial pressures so that you can concentrate on getting well.
This article was first published on 30 November, 2018 and updated on 7 July, 2020.
More information about psychological injury claims
All claims for workers' compensation have differing circumstances and are unique. If you have any questions regarding your elegibility to make a WorkCover claim for a psychological injury, please contact us on 1300 366 441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.