What constitutes notification of an injury?

Posted by Andrew McGiffert |17 Feb 13 | 0 comments

What constitutes notification of an injury?
A recent case before the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal in Tasmania has provided some further clarity around the requirement for an employee to notify their employer ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ following a workplace incident. Often there are disputes as to what this notification should look like, is it an incident report, an entry to a first aid register, receipt of a medical certificate or simple verbal acknowledgement.
The tribunal heard the case of a worker, employed by Hafez Abdul Razzek Hafez, who was helping renovate the builders unit during April 2012. The worker was carrying a bucket of rubble when he experienced pain in his back and right leg. He verbally told his employer and continued to work for two months until the renovation was complete. Following completion of the work he was still suffering back pain and saw a doctor, who gave him a medical certificate and directed him to complete a workers’ compensation claim form. 
He then went to the builder’s home to give him the documents, but the builder allegedly said, “I don’t know you. You never worked for me”, and refused to accept them. 

The worker then tried to give the builder the documents at a meeting that was organised by a mutual colleague, but the builder again refused to take them. 

The builder told the Tribunal he didn’t become aware of the worker’s injury until he received a doctor’s invoice in the mail at the end of July, and said he was never offered any documents. The Tribunal rejected the claim that the employer wasn’t aware until this time.

He denied liability for the worker’s condition, arguing he hadn’t been notified of the injury as soon as practicable, as required by s32(1)(a) of the State Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988

But Commissioner Rodney Chandler found the worker did give the builder notice as soon as practicable in voicing his pain on the day the incident occurred. 

He said he was satisfied the worker attempted to serve the documents to the builder on two occasions, and the builder refused to accept them. 

“I have come to the view that where there is a conflict between the evidence of the worker on the one hand and the employer on the other, it is the evidence of the former which should be preferred.” 

Commissioner Chandler remitted the matter to the registrar to continue the conciliation process. 

H. v Hafez Abdul Razzek Hafez (Ref No. 796/2012) [2013] TASWRCT 1 (9 January 2013) 

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