Who we are
Vision: Safe, secure workplaces
WorkCover NSW manages the State's workplace safety, injury management and workers compensation systems.
Our mission is to sustain a working partnership with the NSW community to achieve safe workplaces, effective return to work and security for injured workers.
WorkCover is responsible to the Minister for Industrial Relations and Special Minister of State, The Hon John Della Bosca MLC.
The Authority administers the Workers Compensation Act 1987, Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998, Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000, the Factories, Shops and Industries Act 1962, Dangerous Goods Act 1975, Workers Compensation (Bush Fire, Emergency & Rescue Services) Act 1987 and the Regulations and Codes of Practice under those Acts.
Freedom of Information
WorkCover NSW has 882 staff including 301 inspectors. The inspectorate is the largest state based team implementing occupational health and safety (OHS), and workers compensation laws in Australia.
A Board comprising the General Manager and six part-time directors manages WorkCover NSW.
The Board determines WorkCover's administrative policies, while the General Manager manages and controls the authority's affairs in accordance with these policies.
The government sets the average WorkCover premium annually on the advice of the WorkCover Board, which takes its advice from consulting actuaries. The Authority's recommendation is based on the annual estimate of liabilities.
What we do
WorkCover works with stakeholders to:
- Reduce work related death, injury, illness and disease
- Reduce health and safety risks to the public
- Support injured workers to remain at work or return to work quickly after appropriate rehabilitation
- Ensure quality services from our own staff, staff and other providers
- Prosecute individuals/ and companies which fail to meet their workplace responsibilities or defraud the system
- Coordinate arrangements for administration of workers compensation and occupational health and safety legislation
All WorkCover's suppliers need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN).
WorkCover's is 77 682 742 966.
WorkCover facts and figures (2000 - 2001)
- 882 staff including 274 inspectors.
- Client Contact Centre handled 113 781 calls.
- Total workers compensation claims payments for 1999-00 amounted to $2.7 billion - an 8 per cent increase on the previous year. The increase was around 4 per cent when adjusted for average weekly earnings.
- In 1999-00, new major claims declined 4.1 per cent from the previous year to 53 224. (new major claims are claims for which the result of injury was death, permanent disability or temporary disability where five days or more were paid for total incapacity).
- Workplace injuries accounted for 80 per cent of total payments while occupational diseases accounted for 12.5 per cent. The remaining 7.5 per cent was due to non-workplace injuries.
- The largest components of both workplace injury payments and occupational disease payments were commutations (redemptions) at 24 per cent and 21 per cent respectively. Total incapacity was second at 16 per cent and 15 per cent, while the third highest cost for workplace injuries was damages and common law (13 per cent). The third highest cost for occupational diseases was legal payments (15 per cent).
- In 2000/01, WorkCover laid 444 summonses. In the same period there were a total of 404 convictions for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983. The court dismissed 40 summons and 23 summonses were withdrawn. This represents a 91 per cent success rate. Total fines awarded by the courts were $5.4 million.
WorkCover is structured into four divisions: The General Manager's Group,
Occupational Health and Safety, Insurance and Corporate Governance.
General Manager's Group
The General Manager's Group has three branches - the Office of the General Manager, the Information Management Branch and the Finance Branch.
The Office of the General Manager coordinates advice to the Minister, and provides executive support to the Board and General Manager as well as secretariat services to WorkCover's consultative bodies.
The Information Management Branch manages WorkCover's technical infrastructure, data support and records.
The Finance Branch manages WorkCover's finances, including financial accounting and reporting, budget formulation and control, investment accounting and taxation compliance.
Occupational Health and Safety Division
The OHS Division promotes safer and healthier workplaces through its State-wide 'one stop shop' information on OHS, workers compensation and injury prevention and management.
It enforces OHS and workers compensation legislation through: inspections, investigations of incidents and complaints and, where necessary, the application of penalties and prosecutions. It also licences hazardous equipment and implements prevention and education programs.
This division is responsible for the continuous improvement of the NSW workers compensation and injury management systems.
It ensures that these systems assist in providing:
- prompt and effective treatment of injuries
- medical and vocational rehabilitation so the injured can return to work as soon as possible
- income support to injured workers and their dependants during incapacity, payment for permanent impairment or death, and for reasonable treatment and other related expenses
- receipt of contributions from employers commensurate with the risks faced, taking into account their strategies and performance in injury prevention, injury management and return to work.
Corporate Governance Division
The Corporate Governance Division provides specialist services to the Minister, the Board, the Workers Compensation and WorkPlace OHS Council, Industry Reference Groups, the General Manager's Group, and the OHS and Insurance Divisions.
It advises on the development, implementation and review of policy and legislation, corporate and business planning, communications and marketing, including media liaison, human resource management and property, purchasing and fleet management.
WorkCover Board members
Hon Joe Riordan, AO
Kate McKenzie, General Manager, WorkCover NSW
What is workers compensation?
Workers compensation provides injured workers with weekly payments to cover loss of earning capacity, payment of medical expenses and vocational rehabilitation expenses, where necessary, to assist them return to work. All employers are required to have a workers compensation policy to protect them from financial claims when a worker suffers a work related injury.
Improving injury and claims management and resolving disputes quickly
Recent changes to workers compensation legislation that became effective on 1 January 2002 are designed to provide a simpler and fairer system for injured workers and their employers. The new system will help prevent unnecessary disputes about workers compensation claims and quickly resolve those disputes that do arise.
These changes have been summarised elsewhere on the website, under claims for compensation and frequently asked questions.
Legal obligations of workers and employers
Workers and employers need to know about their obligations under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.
The injured worker
Compensation will be paid to a worker for a work related injury whether the injury was the fault of the worker or the employer.
Injured worker entitlements
Employers must take out a workers compensation policy to insure themselves against compensation claims for workplace injuries. If one of your workers has a work related injury and you are uninsured, you will be personally liable for that claim.
Employers can reduce their workers compensation premiums by having safer workplaces and better return-to-work strategies for injured workers.
Workers compensation is compulsory and can be obtained from an insurance company approved by WorkCover NSW to underwrite workers compensation.
If you are uncertain if your insurance policy should cover contractors discuss the matter with your insurer.
WorkPlace Injury Management
The Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 focuses on the management, prevention and administration of workplace injuries. The emphasis is on a safe, timely and durable return to work of injured workers.
There are two programs available to assist injured workers:
- An Injury Management Program is a coordinated and managed program that integrates all aspects of injury management including treatment, rehabilitation, re-training, claims management and employment management practices to achieve optimum results.
The responsibility for establishing the program lies with the insurance company, who must lodge a copy of the program with WorkCover.
- An employer must establish a Return-to-Work Program incorporating policies and procedures for the rehabilitation of injured workers. The program must follow the WorkCover Guidelines for employer's return to work programs. It will nominate the employer's return-to-work coordinator, list the rehabilitation providers who will work with that employer and describe how suitable duties will be made available for workers who are certified fit for such duties.
Roles and obligations
An injured worker must notify their employer that they have received an injury as soon as possible after the event occurred.
The employer must then notify their insurer within 48 hours after becoming aware that a worker has received a workplace injury that seems to be a significant injury.
A significant injury is one that prevents a worker from undertaking their normal jobs for more than seven days.
For injuries other than significant injuries, the employer must notify the insurer within seven days after becoming aware that the worker has received an injury.
From 1 January 2002, there are changes to the workers compensation claims and notification process. For more details on this, see the following:
- How do I claim workers compensation?
- What happens after my injury has been notified? and
- Benefits for Injured Workers
An injured worker must:
- participate and cooperate in the establishment of the Injury Management (IM) plan
- comply with their obligations under the IM plan
- nominate a treating doctor who will agree to participate in the development of the IM plan
- authorise the treating doctor to provide relevant information to the insurer or the employer for the purposes of the IM plan
- make all reasonable efforts to return to work with their pre-injury employer, as soon as possible, having regard to the injury.
The employer must participate and cooperate in the establishment of the IM plan and comply with the obligations imposed upon the employer under the IM plan.
The employer must also provide suitable employment for a worker who has been incapacitated for work and is able to return to work on a full-time or part-time basis. A return-to-work plan will be developed by the return-to-work coordinator after discussions with the worker and the treating doctor.
An employer's obligations after an injury has occurred are outlined in detail elsewhere on this website, under Employer - What happens when there is an injury. Also, refer to the Frequently Asked Question: As an employer what are my legal obligations for insurance under workers compensation legislation?
Insurance company's obligations
After being advised by the employer that a worker has suffered a significant injury, the insurance company must initiate action within three working days, including making contact with the worker, the employer and the worker's treating doctor.
The insurance company must then:
- establish an injury management plan for the worker in consultation with the employer, the doctor and the worker
- provide to the employer and worker information regarding the IM plan
- keep the employer informed of significant steps taken or proposed to be taken under the IM plan.
The nominated treating doctor
The nominated treating doctor:
- must provide a WorkCover Medical Certificate
- is the point of communication for treatment and the IM plan
- will be authorised by the worker to provide to the employer and insurance company information relating to the nature of the worker's injury, the extent of incapacity, any restrictions on employment prognosis, suitable duties and time frames for a return to suitable work.
The injury management consultant
Any difficulties in relation to the suitability of duties offered to injured workers can be referred to an injury management consultant. The injury management consultant is a medical practitioner appointed by WorkCover to facilitate agreement between the treating doctor, the worker and the employer about the suitability of duties.
Information contained in this website will assist all parties to meet their obligations under the new legislation. It also contains essential information about the roles of the key parties and directs readers to source documents and other useful resources such as:
WorkCover is available to assist with more complex enquiries. The hotline for doctors to call is 1800 661 111. Other injury management enquiries may be directed to the WorkCover Assistance Service on 13 10 50.
Woolworths fined $105,000 after worker’s arm crushed
Woolworths has been fined $105,000 by the Industrial Relations Commission sitting in court session following an incident at its Warringah Mall supermarket in which a worker had his right arm crushed in a bailing press machine.
Woolworths Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 15 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983 at Brookvale on 6 October 1999.
The worker's arm was crushed when he reached into the bailing press while it was in operation to clear cardboard, and at the same time pressed the emergency stop button.
The emergency stop failed to work and the man's right arm was trapped in the machine.
In handing down his penalty, IRC Vice President Walton said the incident resulted from Woolworths' failure to maintain the bailing press.
WorkCover General Manager Kate McKenzie commented: "This case is an example of the dire consequences which can result when an employer fails to identify and eliminate a foreseeable safety risk to its workers."
Media contact: John Kirby, WorkCover NSW, (02) 9370 5257 or 0413 186 799
WorkCover Authority (Insp Blume) v Woolworths Ltd - IRC 5982 of 2001
McDonald’s fined $180,000 after worker left paraplegic
A Ronald McDonald show stage, which fell on an employee rendering him paraplegic, has resulted in McDonald's being fined $180,000 with $10,000 costs by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission sitting in court session.
McDonald's Australia Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 15(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983 at the company's North Goulburn franchise restaurant on 23 May 1998.
The incident occurred when the stage was being lowered on a McDonald's truck, which had been custom built to transport the Ronald McDonald show to the company's restaurants around NSW.
The truck driver suffered serious spinal cord injury, spinal fractures and a dislocated shoulder when he unlocked a latch holding the stage vertical to the side of the truck. The stage fell, striking him on the head and neck .
As a result of his injuries the employee, who was aged 22 at the time of the incident, is confined to a wheelchair.
In handing down her penalty, JusticeTrish Kavanagh said McDonald's had failed to provide a safe system of work or sufficient training, and the associated risk to the safety of its employees was significant.
WorkCover NSW General Manager Kate McKenzie commented: "This tragic case resulted from the employer's failure to properly maintain the truck's stage lowering mechanism and to properly train the truck driver in its use."
Media contact: John Kirby, WorkCover NSW, (02) 9370 5257 or 0413 186 799
Workcover Authority (Insp Louise May) v McDonald"s Australia Ltd
WorkCover to liaise in overnight truck fatalities
WorkCover NSW General Manager Kate McKenzie announced today that WorkCover would liaise closely with the Roads and Traffic Authority and police investigating the deaths of three truck drivers in separate accidents on NSW roads overnight .
"Road traffic laws administered by the RTA and police are the most relevant legislation and applicable to accidents involving heavy vehicles," said Ms McKenzie.
"However, WorkCover will be studying the preliminary accident reports to determine if any workplace factors contributed to any of the accidents," she said.
"WorkCover is empowered to perform this duty under the protocols established by the NSW Government's Interagency Task Force on Long Haul Trucking," said Ms McKenzie.
"If evidence is uncovered by the police or RTA linking any of the accidents to workplace factors, we will pursue an investigation under the occupational health and safety legislation which WorkCover administers," said Ms McKenzie.
"A WorkCover investigation would need to demonstrate a direct link between the risks faced by a driver, and the failure by the employer to provide a safe system of work for a prosecution to be mounted," she said.
"Employers need to manage occupational health and safety, particularly in high risk occupations such as long haul trucking," said Ms McKenzie.
Media inquiries: John Kirby, WorkCover NSW, 02 4321 5474 or 0413 186 799
Waste firm fined $155,000 over compactor death
A Tuncurry-based waste disposal firm has been fined $155,000 by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission sitting in court session after an employee was crushed to death inside a garbage compactor truck.
JR & EG Richards Pty Ltd (trading as JR Richards & Sons) pleaded guilty to two charges under Section 15(1) of the Occupational Health & Safety Act 1983 by failing to provide information, training, supervision and a safe system of work to ensure the health and safety of the employee.
The 46-year-old man was fatally crushed while working alone clearing garbage from inside the truck at the company's Port Macquarie waste management and recycling depot on 15 December 1999.
WorkCover investigations showed that a proximity switch which should have disabled the compactor blade while the operator was inside, failed to operate correctly, contributing to the incident.
WorkCover General Manager Kate McKenzie commented: "This case is a tragic example of the consequences that can result from an employer's failure to give induction safety training, failure to monitor and inspect safety systems and failure to provide adequate supervision to employees."
Media enquiries: John Kirby, WorkCover NSW, 02 4321 5474 or 0413 186 799