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System ‘fails’ workers

WA’S workers’ compensation system is failing injured workers, claims former miner Leanne Riley.

Ms Riley received nerve damage from her work as a Haulpak truck driver in Newman which left her unable to use her arms or hands for some time.

Her condition, developed in 1998 but was not properly diagnosed for 12 months.

Ms Riley said she found there was nowhere to turn for help and information was sketchy and unreliable.

“You can ring WorkCover three times with the same question and get three different answers,” she said.

“Injured worker rehabilitation needs to be a self-help process. You have to give people information on how to deal with their situation.

“It doesn’t just affect the injured worker, it affects their family as well.”

Besides dealing with the pain of her condition and a lack of any firm answers from the system, Ms Riley was pursued by an insurance investigator.

“I think the insurance company spent about $6,000 following me around,” she said.

Ms Riley developed a workshop to help injured workers get back to work as quickly as possible.

The workshop debunks common myths about the workers’ compensation system and helps participants know what their employer should be doing to help them, how WorkCover WA can assist them, what questions to ask of their doctors, how to take control of how their rehabilitation money is spent and what the future holds.

Ms Riley is expanding her workshop program to target managers.

“Managers don’t know what to do with injured workers,” she said.

The first tier of the program will help managers get systems in place to help injured workers.

The second tier involves telling employees what systems are in place and what to do if they injure themselves at work. The final tier incorporates the workshop Ms Riley is already running.

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