What form of workers compensation claims are for the biggest amount? Believe it or not, far from being head injuries, broken bones or some other physical trauma, the answer is mental stress.
Safe Work Australia yesterday (April 8) released a report on work-related mental stress and compensation claims between 2008-09 and 2010-11.
The report, titled ‘Incidence of accepted workers compensation claims for mental stress’, found that the highest rates of mental stress workers compensation claims came from employees with a high degree of responsibility for the care of others in dangerous environments.
These included ambulance officers, paramedics, police officers, prison officers, and train drivers and their assistants.
Furthermore, statistics showed that most such claims were made by women.
Safe Work Australia chair Ann Sherry says that mental stress in the workplace seriously impacts workers, their families and their employers.
“Typically mental stress claims result in workers being absent from the workplace for long periods of time. The loss of productivity and absence of workers is costing Australian businesses more than $10 billion per year,” said Ms Sherry in a statement.
The report also found that mental stress claims are the most expensive form of workers compensation claim.
That may seem surprising, considering the sort of catastrophic injuries we may more readily associate with workers comp claims.
The key factor, however, is how long mental stress can keep people from their place of work.
It is the length of absence which forms the basis of the claims, as workers seek to recover their lost income during this time.
By industry, professionals were found to make more mental stress claims than any other occupation, with a third citing the cause as work pressure.
By age, younger workers were more likely to claim based on exposure to workplace or occupational violence while older workers were more likely to cite occupational pressure.
As for the genders, women were three times more likely than men to make a claim based on workplace bullying or work-related harassment.
Safe Work Australia says that it will work with regulators, industries and unions across the country to find ways of reducing the incidence of mental stress at work.
“These findings highlight why it is necessary for employers to be aware of stress-related issues and improve current work practices to decrease unnecessary stress in the workplace,” said Ms Sherry.
Anyone who is unsure whether they can claim for workers compensation based on their situation in NSW can have a free no obligation consultation with no win no fee lawyers in Sydney to receive expert advice.