From sparkies to chippies to brickies, it’s no secret that Australia’s tradies carry out a range of physical labour day in, day out.
With this hard, physical work, comes a higher risk of injury, especially over the course of many years in a trade.
That’s why it’s important for tradies to know their right to workers’ compensation, as well as how to access support should they suffer a workplace injury.
What are tradies’ workplace safety rights?
By law, all Australian employers have a duty of care to keep their workers, including tradespeople, safe on the job and ensure their job doesn’t cause them injury or illness. This means that an employer's duty of care covers all employees, regardless of their position or whether they work full-time, part-time or casual.
Contractors, including sole traders, generally will also be covered for workers’ compensation purposes by the company which employs them, commonly a labour-hire business. They may also be covered by a third-party company or contractors’ policy, especially if they are working on-site and taking direction from their client.
When can a tradie claim workers’ compensation?
If a tradie suffers a physical or psychological injury related to work, they may be able to claim workers’ compensation from their employer’s insurer, a third-party company or contractor.
When it comes to tradies’ injuries in the workplace, according to SafeWork Australia the most common types of serious claim are due to:
- traumatic joint injuries (44%)
- cuts or laceration wounds (18%)
- musculoskeletal disorders (15%)
- broken bones or fractures (10%).
Our workers’ compensation lawyers have represented many tradies injured on worksites, often when they aren’t provided safety instruction or equipment or commonly when company policies and procedures are not enforced in the workplace. Labourers are especially at risk, given their responsibilities, and often suffer muscle or ligament injuries. Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) also commonly affects tradies who use power tools for extended periods.
Dangerous dust diseases are also a serious concern, with tradies working on domestic properties at risk of exposure to dangerous fibres like asbestos or silicia. These fibres can cause conditions like asbestosis, silicosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Silicosis in particular has been on the rise in Australia – our Dust Diseases practice has lobbied government for stricter regulations to protect tradespeople.
What other claims are covered under workers' compensation?
While less common, workers’ compensation can also be claimed for mental injuries, like anxiety or depression. These may be developed as a result of workplace bullying, or witnessing the serious injury or death of a workmate. These injuries are no less harmful than physical injuries, and compensation can allow for time off work and medical treatment to manage the condition.
What do tradies claim compensation for?
There’s no set amount which can be claimed in workers’ compensation cases – the exact amount paid will depend on the injury suffered and the specific circumstances of the person injured.
- medical and rehabilitative expenses
- past loss of income and superannuation while injured as well as impact on future earnings
- any permanent impairment suffered.
For an estimate of your claim, speak to one of our workers’ compensation experts
Injured on the job? Shine Lawyers can help
If you’ve suffered an injury at work, our workers’ compensation lawyers can explain your legal rights and potential claims.
We’ll talk where you’re most comfortable, whether it’s at home, in one of our local branches, or over a video or a telephone call
We are proud of our 45-year history representing workers across Australia on a No Win No Fee* basis.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: August 23, 2021.