Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
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Your Rights At Work: seeking medical attention for an injury


If you’ve been injured at work, it is important that you understand your rights so that you are placed in the best position possible should you wish to submit a workers’ compensation claim later down the track. Many union members who have been injured report that they were bullied by their employer into situations that they felt uncomfortable refusing, particularly around medical appointments, doctor’s reports and injury assessments.

If you are injured at work, it’s important to seek medical advice – even if your injury doesn’t appear to be serious. Some injuries, such as back pain or a stiff shoulder can turn out to be quite significant. Make sure you let your RTBU workplace delegate know if you’ve been injured, or a trusted co-worker, so that the necessary incident report paperwork can be started and you have a witness account.

When seeking medical advice, some employers like BMA may try to force you to see the company doctor. You can, and should, see your own doctor.

There are limited instances in which an employer can legitimately request that you see the company doctor:

A once-off functional capacity assessment to ensure that you are fit to return to work
If your employment agreement, industrial agreement, employment contract or like document requires you to undergo a medical assessment IE fitness for work for safety critical workers

The workers’ compensation insurer can request you to see a doctor of their choosing at any time during your claim. If you have a non-work related injury and your employer is treating you adversely because of it, you should notify your union delegate.

If it is not one of these situations, you should feel confident refusing your employers request.

You also don’t need to have an employer representative present at your appointment and you can, and should, refuse any requests such as this. Doctors’ appointments are private and confidential, and your employer is not legally allowed to come with you into the appointment or see your medical records unless you provide authority to do so. If your employer bullies you for your medical records, speak to your RTBU delegate immediately.

Members in BMA must remember that BMA is a self-insurer, so they sort of wear two hats, so for the purposes of being injured at work, your employer is your supervisor at work etc. and WorkCover is BMAs WorkCover unit who have to follow the same legislation as WorkCover Queensland. This gives rise to a conflict of interest which the Union does not like, but sadly, the law allows.

For more information on your workplace rights, call the RTBU on 07 3839 4988 as ask for a referral to the union’s preferred lawyers, Maurice Blackburn.

Unity is Strength

Bruce Mackie
Queensland State President