Workers’ compensation insurance is a form of insurance cover provided by employers to support employees who are injured at work or suffer and illness as a result of their work. Workers’ compensation benefits include wage replacement payments when an employee is unfit to work and financial support for medical expenses associated with their recovery and rehabilitation.
Work-related injuries and illness
According to Safe Work Australia, injury and musculoskeletal disorders led to 90% of serious claims in 2014–15, with the most common are traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries (almost 45%). In the same report, it was identified that diseases led to 10% of serious claims in 2014–15, with the most common mental disorders (almost 6%). More information on compensated work-related injuries and illness can be found in the Australian workers’ compensation statistics reports.
Chronic pain and work-related injuries
Chronic pain after work-related injury is a common barrier to return to work. Patients frequently experience low mood, sleep disturbance, social isolation and financial disadvantage as a result of both chronic pain and associated disability. Managing a sustainable return to work plan under these circumstances is a challenging and complex task, and is most effectively co-ordinated by applying a multidisciplinary approach.
We are now more aware than ever of the cost of chronic pain to our community. In March of 2019, Pain Australia published the “Cost of Pain in Australia”, which highlighted benefits to be gained by increasing access to multidisciplinary care for chronic pain management. The findings of this report were that “multidisciplinary care also improved work attendance, reducing absenteeism by seven days per person per year compared to standard care. Overall, multidisciplinary pain management can save $9,582 per person per year.”
The NSW Health Minister assigned a taskforce in 2011 for the management of persistent pain with the aim of easing the burden and improving the quality of life of people experiencing persistent pain whilst helping them re-enter the workforce. As part of the findings of this taskforce, multidisciplinary pain clinics, such as Northern Pain Centre, have been shown to offer effective alternatives to reliance on opioids for chronic pain. These “clinics reduce hospital and emergency department presentations due to overuse of opioids – an increasingly critical problem around the world. They offer effective treatments to minimise pain-related chronic disability and depression, as well as providing programs that allow people to self-manage their pain so that they can return to their normal lives. The clinics also provide return to work support for injured workers whose pain is persistent. Currently 80 per cent of those who have not returned to work within six months of their injury attribute this to unresolved pain”.
Northern Pain Centre – A Multidisciplinary Pain Centre
Northern Pain Centre a Multidisciplinary Pain Centre with the expertise, experience and resources to manage patients with work-related chronic pain. Our Pain Specialist doctors include Interventional Pain Specialists and a Psychiatrist who is also a Pain Specialist. We work closely with a team of clinical psychologists and physiotherapists to provide comprehensive and individually tailored treatment for a range of pain conditions. It is through this collaboration that we can provide wholistic management of chronic pain in the context of workers’ compensation claims, incorporating innovations in interventional therapy, intensive multidisciplinary pain management programs, and individual therapy with our allied health team (nursing staff, physiotherapy and clinical psychology).
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Workers compensation in NSW
The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) is the government organisation responsible for regulating the NSW workers compensation system. SIRA assumed the insurance regulatory functions of WorkCover on 1 September 2015. SafeWork NSW is the regulator for workplace health and safety in NSW. There are...