Companies are being urged to consider the effects of Australia’s ageing workforce on their business, as the ageing process will increasingly come to bear on employees’ injury-related claims.
Jason Allison of General Insurance Exchange said employers need to consider the risk and put steps in place to ensure that they manage it effectively. He added that the impact of age on injured employees’ abilities could unduly influence workers' compensation claims.
“Workers’ Compensation schemes across the nation can expect to have an increasing number of claims that involve older workers,” he said. “With this changing demographic profile, inevitably the issue of pre-existing degenerative conditions and injuries will increasingly be a factor.”
Workers’ Compensation is the main remedy for injured employees, said Nichola Constant, Director of People and Culture Strategies – but employers can also be prosecuted under Work Health and Safety laws, or be subjected to breach of contract and negligence claims.
With the effects of age likely to increasingly affect these claims, it is important that companies prepare themselves. Failing to manage workers’ compensation and other claims properly can result in negative consequences, including:
“When there is an injured worker then there are varying perspectives at play,” said Constant. “The worker thinks the employer is responsible, the employer just wants the best for the business (and all the workers).” An effective risk management strategy for dealing with compensation claims would ensure that rehabilitation is managed properly, and that vested interests (including those of doctors, insurers, physio, rehab specialists, worker and employer) are managed as well as possible.
Advances in medicine are however likely to make determinations relating to compensation claims easier. “Future advances in medical technology will play a role by increasing the degree of certainty when it comes to determining what treatment should be provided through the Workers’ Compensation claim process,” Allison said. “Conducting appropriate medical assessments in a timely manner will assist in the process of determining the degree to which an employee’s incapacity is the result of a specific workplace injury.”