Association warns on workers’ comp

THE Bundaberg District Law Association has warned Queensland's workers' compensation system would plunge into deficit with the planned introduction of impairment thresholds.

Association president Chris Parker said the current system was strong and the proposed changes intensified the risk of further costs impositions on business, which threatened the financial viability of the scheme.

"Queensland has a best practice workers' compensation scheme with employers paying premiums as low as Victoria, disputes are the lowest in the nation and it makes the most profit," he said. The government was set to limit common law workplace injury claims with a Whole Person Impairment threshold, he said.

"Introducing a 5% threshold to limit common law claims would mean over 50% of people won't be able to make a claim," he said.

"Impairment thresholds are arbitrary, unfair and utterly disregard the particular personal circumstances of an injured person."

It assessed only the basic loss of use of the part of the body injured, not the impact of injury on a person's ability to work and enjoy their normal activities.

"A 'low impairment' injury can actually have a significant impact on someone's life," he said.

"If you're an electrician and you sustain an injury that rates a modest impairment assessment but prevents you from working, such as a finger or hand injury, you have no redress through the courts."

But peak industry group Master Builders has called for urgent amendments to the workers' compensation scheme.

Executive director Grant Galvin said common law damages claims remained well above the historical average and accounted for a disproportionate amount of the overall cost of the scheme.

"In the building and construction industry, there has been a 23% increase in premiums in the last four years, with some sectors such as bricklaying and concreting up more than 30%," Mr Galvin said.

"This is a massive concern for Master Builders."

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