Hospitals across NSW may introduce new measures in an effort to reduce the number of workers compensation claims employees make.
South Western Sydney Health District (SWSLHD), which oversees Campbelltown, Bankstown, Liverpool and Fairfield hospitals, believes a pre-employment health assessment program could optimise hiring practices.
Figures from last year's NSW Health Annual Report showed there were 4,552 workers compensation claims between 2015 and 2016, with total payouts reaching $51.4 million.
Body stress was the most commonly reported injury, comprising 47 per cent of all claims. Psychological illnesses (17 per cent) and slips and falls (16 per cent) were also frequently reported.
According to the Daily Telegraph, screening candidates would weed out any overweight, chronically sick and unfit individuals before they are recruited.
Robert Migliore is a director of Actevate, a company that provides pre-employment checks for major businesses such as Qantas. He told the Telegraph that assessments are a key hazard reduction technique.
"The savvy employer doesn't want to have workers' compensation claims. Workers comp costs are on the rise and employers know by doing these assessments they are reducing their likelihood of people lodging claims," he stated.
"If we can select people who are more resilient, those that are at less risk of injury, then we can hire the best people … we are not at risk of litigation and workers' compensation claims and a wide variety of legislative provisions that can impact on employers."
Pre-employment health assessments aren't inherently discriminatory, but employers must be careful what questions they ask, which tests they perform and how the information is used.
Brett Holmes, general secretary of the NSW Nursing & Midwives Association, said there is a fine line between ensuring prospective employees can perform a role and discrimination.
He claimed it is reasonable for organisations to want capable candidates, but previous health assessments have potentially crossed a line. For example, a pilot screening program at Mid North Coast Local Health had sought to only assess candidates aged over 45.
"We said it was discriminatory … and they were asking people to do squats and activities that were not really related to the normal work duties of nursing," Mr Holmes explained.
Would you like to discuss a workers compensation claim in NSW? Please contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.