Construction and mining are two of the most dangerous industries to work in due to on-site hazards. Depending on your job, there may be many risks including heavy machinery, moving vehicles, heights, falling rocks and sharp tools.
In Australia, these industries are covered by strict laws and regulations that protect workers. But unfortunately, accidents still happen.
If you get injured or become unwell in a construction or mining industry job and can’t work as a result, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation (or WorkCover).
Read more about how to claim construction accident compensation or mining accident compensation.
Protection in Construction and Mining Jobs
In Australia, the mining industry is regulated by various states and territories. For example, in Queensland, these Acts and associated regulations protect a range of workers, including geologists, engineers, machine operators, managers, mechanics, and admin staff:
Construction can be very high risk due to electricity, asbestos, heights, demolition, confined spaces, pressurised pipes, chemicals, and more.
Both the Australian and state governments have laws and codes of practice to keep everyone safe on construction sites, including surveyors, carpenters, electricians, roofers, builders, tilers, and more.
Duty of care
Your employer has a duty of care to make your workplace as safe as possible for you, especially in jobs that could result in a death if something goes wrong. Your employer must provide
- comprehensive training in all aspects of your job
- a safe environment physically and mentally
- adequate supervision and instruction on the job, particularly about safety.
Injuries in Mining and Construction
Thankfully, over the last decade, injuries and accidents in mining have reduced significantly due to tight regulation, so there are fewer deaths and serious injuries. But mining still has one of the highest rates of death of any industry due to its inherently dangerous nature.
Common injuries in mining occupations caused by:
- body stressing
- slips trips and falls
- moving objects or machinery
- working with high-risk equipment.
Body stressing is the most common injury, caused by muscle stress from picking up and placing down heavy objects. Slips, trips and falls can make up one-quarter of injuries as well.
Unfortunately, the rate of fatality and injury in the construction industry is even higher than in mining. As with mining, the rate of serious injury and death has fallen due to legislation, but injuries and accidents are still very common, including:
- cuts and open wounds
- head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- muscle sprains and strains
- chronic back, knee, or joint pain
- burns from chemical exposure
- eye injuries, including impaired vision.
These are generally caused by:
- hitting or being hit by objects or vehicles
- lifting, pushing or pulling objects
- falls from ladders, mobile ramps, stairways, roofs, and scaffolding
- being trapped by equipment
- lack of PPE to protect workers from chemicals, electricity, and falling objects.
The impact of Injury in Mining and Construction
Some of these injuries will be temporary, enabling you to return to work fairly quickly. But others will be more serious and even get worse over time, continuing to prevent you from earning an income.
If you have suffered an injury in your mining or construction industry job and can’t return to work – either your own job or any other job inside or outside of your industry – you may be eligible for a compensation payout.
Worker’s compensation can be complex, depending on the circumstances of the injury and the extent that it was caused by employer negligence. Consider contacting a worker’s compensation lawyer like Main Lawyers to fully understand what you’re entitled to.
Compensation for Mining and Construction Injury
In Australia, employers pay workers compensation insurance (also called WorkCover), which provides payments to employees if they are injured or become ill because of their work.
These payments can cover:
- loss of earnings while you can’t work (weekly payments)
- medical and hospital fees, including rehabilitation and other treatment
- travel due to your treatment or claim, like Ubers and parking fees
- permanent injury or delayed injuries
- funeral costs (to assist the family if the employee dies).
You could also get a lump sum payout if you have a permanent impairment as a result of the accident. To be eligible, you must be certified as having a total and permanent disability and meet certain criteria.
Are you Covered by Worker’s Compensation?
If you’re a full-time, part-time or casual worker in the mining and construction industry, you are eligible for worker’s compensation. External contractors may be an exception.
WorkCover relates to anywhere you do your job, so you’re covered at a construction site or mine, working from home, on breaks, and traveling to and from the worksite.
This includes fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers who may sustain an injury or illness on the long journey to or from the worksite.
Be aware that worker’s compensation only covers the employee who is injured in a mining or construction accident. You can’t claim compensation for any property damaged in the accident or for any family member or friend injured in the same accident.
However, those people could make a personal injury claim if they were eligible.
Compensation for a Fatality
Unfortunately, the mining and construction industries have a higher fatality rate than other industries.
If a loved one and/or someone you are financially dependent on dies after a mining or construction accident, you may be able to make a compensation claim. This could include a lump sum, regular payments or funeral expenses.
This claim is often a bit more complex, so you should get professional advice before starting the process. We can work on your behalf through this terrible time to make sure you get what you need to support yourself after your loss.
What to do After a Workplace Accident
If you are injured or become ill as a result of your job, you will need to support yourself while you recover, so you should start the claim process for your building site accident compensation or mine accident compensation as quickly as possible after getting medical help.
Make sure your doctor records exactly what occurred, as this will help In your claim. Then you should:
- tell your employer about the accident and the injury in writing
- make a workers compensation claim as soon as possible to meet the necessary timeframes
- consider getting help from a construction accident lawyer or mining accident lawyer to work through the process with you, like our qualified and experienced team at Main Lawyers.
Note: If your employer is self-insured, you’ll actually make the claim with them directly rather than an insurance company. Get professional advice in this situation.
Keep all the records and paperwork you can, so you can use it to prove your claim. This might include emails, photographs, medical certificates, statements from witnesses and anything else you think might help.
How your Compensation Claim is Decided
When you make a claim, the insurance company looks at many factors before deciding whether to approve your claim, including:
- whether you are a ‘worker’ by law, (i.e. have an employer-employee relationship)
- your injury or illness occurred when you were doing your job or it was related to your job
- the extent to which you caused the accident, if at all
- the extent of your injury or condition, and how it may affect you and your ability to earn an income in the future.
Why WorkCover Might Deny your Claim
Unfortunately, not every construction industry or mining industry worker’s compensation claim is approved. They look at all the factors mentioned above to determine if you’re eligible, but other issues may arise, including:
- your injury or condition may not be related to your work (for example, it occurred while you were with a work friend outside of work or was caused by a previous injury you sustained outside of work)
- the insurer doesn’t have enough information from you to adequately prove your claim
- you are too late in providing your claim to the insurer or reporting the issue to your employer (i.e. you haven’t met their timeframes)
- the severity of your injury or condition doesn’t match up with the amount of compensation you’re claiming
- your employer disagrees with how the injury occurred.
If you disagree with the reason WorkCover gives for denying your claim for compensation, you may appeal within three months of their decision.
It could take several tries before they finally approve your claim. If you end up in this situation, contact an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer, like Main Lawyers, to help you.
Want to Know More?
At Main Lawyers, our team specialises in work injury assessments, including injuries sustained in the mining and construction industries. We can get you everything you’re entitled to if you’re injured at work.
We know you need the support while you’re recovering, so we won’t let your case drag on any longer than necessary – we’ll get your case resolved as quickly as possible.