What is a work related injury?
As the term suggests, a work related injury occurs at work or is the result of work.
Some examples of a work related injury:
- A worker breaks his wrist when he trips over an electrical cord (at work) and falls onto the ground.
- A worker becomes sick at home as (a result) of working with a hazardous chemical at work.
In each of these examples the work being performed contributed to the injury or illness and could be described as a work related injury.
NB: Injuries that happen on the way to or from work are not covered by workers' compensation.
The costs of injuries for the individual
When a person is injured at work it's often assumed that "everything" will be covered by workers' compensation.
In fact, workers' compensation only covers the injured person for loss of wages and some costs associated with the treatment of the injury. These are the 'direct costs' of an injury.
There are also 'indirect costs' that cannot be accurately measured or compensated via the compensation system, they include things such as:
- Being stuck at home - affecting their social life.
- Relying on family members to do simple tasks - help getting dressed.
- Being unable to enjoy hobbies or pastimes.
- Being unable to play sport.
The costs of injuries for the employer
When injuries occur in the workplace, employers are affected in ways that cannot be measured or compensated for, things such as:
- Equipment or machinery damaged at the time of the injury.
- Losses due to materials being wasted or contaminated at the time of the injury.
- 'Down time' due to people helping the injured person.
In addition to these losses, the employer could be prosecuted and fined if the injury is serious.
The costs of injuries for the community
The community can be affected when people cannot to return to work as injured people unable to work may require a pension.