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Case study: Devil in the details for factory worker

In July 2019, a union member contacted us with a rejected Workcover Queensland decision in relation to industrial deafness. This member had a strong work ethic and had been working in numerous factories for approximately 26 years. Due to this, he had been experiencing difficulties with his hearing. Therefore, this member consulted his doctor and it was confirmed that he had suffered a significant decrease in hearing due to his exposure to numerous factories in his work-life.

However, WorkCover denied our client’s application for compensation for industrial deafness on the basis that he did not meet the definition of ‘temporarily unemployed’ as he had been unemployed for more than six months.

We reviewed this decision in September 2019. After having lengthy conversations with this client, it was revealed that our client was battling cancer. The lengthy series of radiation treatments meant that our client was forced to take a period of time off work which lasted longer than six months.

Upon review to the Worker’s Compensation Regulator, we argued that the six-month time period was a timeframe created by WorkCover with no legal foundation. It was merely a guideline. We further argued that WorkCover failed to take into account the member’s current health condition and highlighted the fact that our client was not physically able to seek work during radiation treatment. In conclusion, numerous Queensland cases were referenced in support, and we argued our client would ordinarily be considered a worker under the Act but for his unfortunate need to seek medical treatment for his cancer.

The application was successful on review and the union member received the medical treatment for the industrial deafness he was suffering. This member was then also able to purchase the appropriate hearing aids he required, which he could not afford prior to his application for compensation being accepted.