Workplace trauma alert

Wednesday, 27 August, 2003

Employers are being warned not to be complacent about the potential for compensation claims from staff suffering psychological damage at work.

The warning comes in a new book 'Employer Liability for Workplace Traumas' by QUT law lecturer, Associate Professor Des Butler.

Workplace trauma covers a wide range of situations from staff such as emergency services personnel being traumatised by what they witness as part of their daily duties to those suffering psychological damage as a result of bullying, overwork or suspension.

Professor Butler said employers have been aware of the physical risks associated with some jobs for many years. But he said the effects of environmental factors like bullying had only recently come to the fore with unions insisting on anti-bullying laws in many workplaces and an increase in compensation claims made to victims of trauma. "Employers can't afford to be complacent or overlook the potential for claims for psychological damage that could arise from their workplace." He said with some compensation claims reaching almost $500,000, insurance companies were particularly interested in the area. "They need some assurance they're not going to get whacked with these huge damages claims."

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