Workers' compensation and the challenges posed by changing patterns of work: evidence from Australia

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There is mounting evidence that changes to labour markets that have occurred in industrialised societies over the past three decades – most notably the growth of less secure/more flexible work arrangements – are having significant adverse effects on occupational safety and health. More belatedly, there is a growing awareness that the changes pose serious challenges for existing occupational safety and health regulatory and workers' compensation/social security regimes. In 2001/02, a study was undertaken of the problems and policy responses to changing work arrangements in eight of nine Australian workers' compensation jurisdictions. The study was based on focus groups and individual interviews with 63 agency officials and 40 union and employer representatives, as well as analysis of agency guidance material, reports and statistics. It was found that changing work arrangements posed serious problems for workers' compensation regimes in terms of coverage, utilisation, claims handling, return-to-work programmes and premium compliance. Despite a number of practical responses, agencies were having trouble rectifying these problems.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Policy and Practice in Health and Safety is an international journal published twice a year. It's designed as a forum for academic and policy discourse on health and safety and is aimed at those who practise, tutor, research or study health and safety regulation and management. All published papers have undergone a double-blind refereeing process by at least two referees.

    Policy and Practice is an important source of reference for anyone studying or working at a professional level in health and safety. It'll help to keep you up to speed on developing debates on a wide range of topics.

    The editor, David Walters, Professor of Work Environment at the Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre, leads Policy and Practice's authoritative international editorial board. The journal addresses practical workplace health and safety issues as well as focusing on a broader context - the social, economic and political discussions that shape employment and work.

    Subjects covered in recent issues include comparisons of different regulatory and management frameworks, case studies of occupational safety and health in individual locations, and the impact of economic and political factors on health and safety.
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