Stress-related workers compensation claims in the Tasmanian State Service: A research overview. Lisa Jarman PhD Candidate Partnering

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1 Stress-related workers compensation claims in the Tasmanian State Service: A research overview Lisa Jarman PhD Candidate Partnering

2 What is workers compensation? Compensation payable under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 1988 to a worker who suffers an injury or disease arising out of or in the course the worker s employment. For a mental disease the worker s employment must have contributed to a substantial degree Compensation may cover: Lost earnings, medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, permanent impairment, some common law damages Reference: WorkCover Tasmania (2010) A Guide to Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation in Tasmania: For injuries occurring on or after 1 July 2010

3 Starting the workers compensation claim process Worker gives notice of injury or disease (verbal or in writing) as soon as practicable Employer notifies insurer within 3 working days Employer serves a written notice on the worker within 14 days informing of their right to make a claim Worker must make formal claim within 6 months, along with medical certificate

4 Submitting the claim form References: WorkCover Tasmania (2009) Tasmanian State Service Workplace Injuries Statistical Report; WorkCover Tasmania (2010) Progress against the National OHS Strategy

5 When a claim is made When claim is made, employer must, without prejudice: Start injury management and forward the claim to insurer within 5 working days start making weekly compensation payments if certified partially or totally incapacitated for work Pay for medical and assoc expenses up to $5000 Meet costs of first weekly payment and $200 for medical and other expenses Give the worker written notice of claim status within 28 days (dispute or not) If claim is disputed they have 84 days to inform the worker of the dispute and reasons for dispute, and refer the matter to the Tribunal Job must be kept open for 12 months after incapacitation, if can t return suitable alternative duties must be offered

6 National OHS strategy 2002 Target To reduce the incidence of workplace injury by at least 40% by 30 June 2012 Between 2002 and 2009: Nationally = 21% decrease in incidence rate Tasmania = 8% decrease in incidence rate References: WorkCover Tasmania (2010) Progress against the National OHS Strategy

7 Why is research needed on workers compensation claims? Source: Tasmanian Risk Management Fund Annual Reports

8 Average days lost in Tasmania due to workers comp claims References: WorkCover Tasmania (2009) Tasmanian State Service Workplace Injuries Statistical Report; WorkCover Tasmania (2010) Progress against the National OHS Strategy

9 Average cost of claims in Tasmania References: WorkCover Tasmania (2009) Tasmanian State Service Workplace Injuries Statistical Report; WorkCover Tasmania (2010) Progress against the National OHS Strategy

10 Research questions What is the distribution of stress vs all other workers comp claims? To what extent does the profile match psychological distress from survey 2010? (age, gender, occupation, organisation) What is the cost profile for stress claims vs all other claims? What are the correlates of stress claims in the TSS? (all years, individual years)

11 Method Extracted WorkCover data for all workers compensation claims Separated stress-related claims from all other claims Data available included age, sex, occupation, organisation, leave days, mechanism, costs by payment year Costs are defined as everything paid out in a year, regardless of when the claim occurred Data includes payments to: doctors, hospitals, rehabilitation, wages, other medical, miscellaneous (e.g. travel), investigation and legal expenses

12 Defining stress-related compensation claims Stress-related claims data derived from the Type of Occurrence Classification System (TOOCS 3 rd ed) definitions of mental diseases, currently being used by WorkCover Anxiety/stress disorder Depression Anxiety/depression combined Reaction to stressors: other, multiple or not specified Other mental diseases, not elsewhere classified Mental diseases unspecified Post Traumatic Stress Disorder short term shock not included

13 Defining mechanisms Mechanism is the claimant s perception of the circumstances that resulted in the injury/disease Categorised by WorkCover using the TOOCs from qualitative comments on claim forms Categories are: Exposure to a traumatic event (witnessing a fatal or other accident) Exposure to workplace or occupational violence (single event - being a victim of) Work pressure (deadlines, responsibilities, restructuring, interpersonal conflict, performance-based management) Suicide or attempted suicide Workplace harassment under and/or workplace bullying (repetitive assault, harassment, abuse, threats) Other harassment (sexual, racial) Other mental stress factors (dietary, deficiency diseases)

14 Progress so far Placement concluded but plenty of work to go Extracted distribution of workers compensation claims for stress-related vs all other claims Currently examining costs profile Initial phases of model development for correlates of stress-related claims

15 Acknowledgements NHMRC Partnership Grant WorkCover Tasmania Public Sector Management Office, Dept of Premier and Cabinet Partnering

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