According to WorkCover Queensland, injury claims in the mining sector have fallen 21 per cent. Workers in the mining industry made 1,895 workers’ compensation claims in 2013/2014 compared with 2,397 in 2012/2013 against the backdrop of a contracting workforce.
“The Queensland mining industry continues to be one of the safest in the world,” WorkCover Queensland Customer Services Manager, Matt Cross said.
“However, this does not mean we can lower our vigilance and become complacent when it comes to ensuring our mine workers get home safe and healthy to their families each day,” he said.
In 2013/2014, two workplace fatalities were reported at underground coal mines.
“Mine workers are exposed to high risk activities daily. Even with the best training, safety policies and experience accidents do happen, leaving workers with lengthy rehabilitation and difficulties returning to full capacity.”
Across the sector, musculoskeletal injuries and diseases remained the most common injury, accounting for 55 per cent of all injuries and worth more than $18 million in compensation payments.
Other key mining sector injury statistics in 2013/2014 include:
- Back injuries were the most common (over 20 per cent), followed by hand and fingers (13 per cent), and head and face (12 per cent)
- Workers in the 30-40 year age bracket had the most injury claims in the sector at 29 per cent
- Open cut coal workers reported the most claims in the sector (32 per cent), followed by underground coal workers (13 per cent)
- Psychological injuries continue to rise with a 35 per cent increase.
WorkCover statistics also indicate that injured workers in the mining sector are taking longer to return to work from injury compared with previous years. On average, paid days off work as a result of a workplace injury in the sector increased almost 20 per cent to 66 days in 2013/2014 compared to 59 in 2012/2013.
According to WorkCover’s Matt Cross, a supportive and positive approach from the employer at the time of injury and throughout the rehabilitation process can have a positive impact on recovery and improves the likelihood of a prompt and successful return to work.
“Providing suitable duties or retraining and returning someone to meaningful work as soon as possible can have a dramatic impact on claim outcomes and exposure to expensive common law claims,” Matt said.
“It’s vital that employers communicate regularly and openly with their employees to show they are valued.
“Communication that is free from blame, stigma and defensiveness also alleviates employee uncertainty about job security.”
Matt added that failing to contact the worker can actually discourage them from participating in the injury management process.
“In some cases, an injured worker may even become angry and resentful at the perceived lack of support, resulting in unsuccessful return-to-work attempts, prolonged time off work and a possible common law claim,” Matt said.
“Establishing a good relationship with an injured worker can help prevent a secondary psychological injury during the course of a workers’ compensation claim.”