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WorkSafe says there’s no excuse for safety shortcuts in tough times

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WorkSafe Victoria  is reminding Victorian employers that their legal obligations in helping an injured worker return to safe and sustainable work remain unchanged in difficult economic times.

This message comes after WorkSafe has identified some business operators who have illegally terminated their employment of an injured worker. All employers have a legal obligation to provide injured workers with suitable employment within the first 12 months following acceptance of a claim.

As a result, from this month WorkSafe’s inspectors will be targeting employers to ensure they are meeting their return to work obligations for injured workers.

WorkSafe’s Len Boehm said the management of return to work obligations was often juggled among a range of business needs.

“Helping injured workers return to work in a safe and sustainable way can be a complex process.

“However, an employer cannot ignore their responsibilities,” Boehm said. “Whether you are downsizing or changing the structure of your workplace, your legal obligations remain the same.”

Mr Boehm said that the inspectors’ primary role is to help business operators and provide guidance on what they need to do to comply.

“But where employers are not addressing return to work issues and meeting their obligations, they will suffer the consequences, including the potential for prosecution,” Mr Boehm said.

WorkSafe is also reminding injured workers that they have obligations and their entitlements may be affected should they not make every effort to return to work in suitable employment.

Employers can help workers back to work by: 

  • informing the worker and their treating healthcare practitioner of possible duties available once they have a capacity to perform some work 
  • including an offer of suitable employment in the return to work plan where the worker’s medical certificate specifies a capacity to perform some work 
  • talking with them to establish an appropriate and goal oriented return to work plan 
  • asking a WorkSafe Agent if the business is eligible for Small Business - Return to Work Essentials, which provides advice and hands-on support and helps the business complete the paperwork and plan for the worker’s return to work.

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