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Injured electrician warns against compo payout cutbacks

Injured worker Nathan Sandy, 27, fears changes to Queensland's workers' compensation program.
Injured worker Nathan Sandy, 27, fears changes to Queensland's workers' compensation program. Rae Wilson

INJURED electrician Nathan Sandy fears a Queensland Government review of the State's workers' compensation scheme could slash protection and cap payments for others in his situation.

The 27-year-old, who had been flying in and out of the Sunshine Coast, found his life changed overnight after a workplace accident in a cherry-picker in Moranbah in central Queensland on March 12 this year.

He was airlifted to Mackay Hospital where he spent time in intensive care before transferring to a Brisbane hospital - spending months recovering from three major operations.

Mr Sandy, who then returned to his parents' home in Warwick, his hometown, to continue rehabilitation, described the scheme was "critical" when he spoke on Wednesday outside Queensland Parliament where a committee was hearing submissions on the WorkCover scheme.

He said workers' compensation had given him quality of life after his accident and helped with his bills.

"It's helped with all the medical expenses and rehabilitation now with ongoing treatment, physiotherapy, counselling," he said.

"Just because you're hurt, the bills don't stop coming in.

"It all went pretty smoothly. I think the scheme works really well.

"A lot of young blokes don't have private health insurance. They would never be able to afford to cover themselves for something like this.

"Being able to have some sort of quality of life after something like this happens is important. But I'd rather have my old life and my old body back any day."

His solicitor Leeha James said the benefit of the current workers' compensation scheme was the strong focus on return-to-work and her client hoped to get back there soon.

She said Nathan's catastrophic injuries might mean he could not return to his pre-injury duties and might need to find another form of employment.

Ms James said any changes to that focus or the common law threshold, which could help him pay for ongoing medical expenses in the future - including more surgery - would be detrimental to his recovery.

Amanda Richards, from the Queensland Council of Unions, said she was concerned the government would remove cover for workers injured on journeys to and from work or taking their meal breaks when there was no justification for the changes.

She said the review could lead to an injury threshold test to determine whether workers could sue employers and result in smaller compensation payouts.

Ms Richards said employer premiums, and interest earned on them, funded the WorkCover scheme.

"The fund is 117%. We have one of the lowest dispute rates in Australia.

"Our return to work rate is 98.5% and there's only 11.2% of employers actually making a claim on their policy," she said.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Topics:  moranbah sunshine coast



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