Archive | January, 2012

Life after a catastrophic work injury: a story of hope perhaps

Waking up after a catastrophic work injury  to learn his left arm and much of his right leg were gone was not the worst moment for Mike Rousselle. No, the worst of it came after he was released from hospital and the fear and uncertainty of all that lay ahead began to sink in.

Learning to live after a catastrophic work injury

“My first week home was probably the toughest, realising this was reality,” Rousselle, now 32, recalled in a telephone interview earlier this month from Cranbrook, where he lives with his wife, Brett, and two children.

“I had seen pictures of myself [before the accident] and realized I am not going to be the person that I was, and I loved that person. I was just hung up on that.”

Rousselle had yet to meet Stearns Hodge, a man whose own survival would prove so valuable.

Like Rousselle, Hodge is a double amputee. He was a young husband and father of three when, in 1984, he lost his left arm and right leg above the knee while working as a building contractor in Nelson, B.C.

Hodge remembers the searing pain he felt as thousands of volts of electricity coursed through his body after an aluminum ladder he was holding snagged a live power line.

“Basically, you cook from the inside out,” Hodge said of the damage to his body.

Rousselle may be the only person this side of the Rockies who knows what that feels like, and lived to tell.

In 2009, Rousselle, an experienced power lineman, was 15 metres up a utility pole when his body was hit with 14,400 volts from a loose electrical wire.

“It probably should have killed me from the injures that I suffered,” he said of the horrific accident.

His next memory was waking up in a Calgary hospital, his left arm amputated below the shoulder. He lost his right leg above the knee a few days later, after enduring four unsuccessful surgeries to save it.

Each day, he felt himself slipping further into despair as he thought of everything he had lost.

Soccer and hockey, both passions before the accident, were now things of the past, he believed.

He worried his wife would no longer find him attractive, how the burden of the household would now fall to her, and about how he could possibly play with his children.

The marriage had already been tested in 2006 when the couple suffered the devastating death of their two-month-old son, Jaxson.

This accident, and the subsequent amputations, just seemed too much for any one family to handle.

It was about then Hodge arrived on the doorstep.

Now 61, Hodge and his wife Janice had heard about Rousselle’s accident through mutual friends and were stunned by the similarities in their stories.

The couple, who live in Summerland, felt a pull to meet the Rousselles in person — to let the younger pair know they understood all the emotions they were feeling and to reassure them that, beyond the anger and the sadness, there was a life well worth living.

“I still remember the day my fears vanished,” Hodge said of his early inspiration in the days following his accident.

“Jan pulled the curtains closed, climbed into [the hospital] bed and put her arms around me. I didn’t have to say a word. When she married me, she promised it would be for better or for worse, and she proved to me that she meant it.”

So they packed up their car and drove 500 kilometres to Cranbrook to pay the Rousselle’s a visit.

The message couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It just kind of made me realize that your attitude has a lot to do with how your outcome is going to be,” Rousselle said, recalling Stearns’ advice to say goodbye to the person he was before and focus on who he was going to become instead.

“It made me think, if I am going to move forward, I have got to stop thinking about the past.”

The meeting made a big impression on Brett, too.

There was something so reassuring in the way Jan helped her husband of 38 years put on his coat as they prepared to leave.

“She [Brett] looked at that and just admired how Jan was still there for him,” Rousselle said.

In the years since the accident, and that fateful afternoon with the Hodges, Rousselle has come a long way. He’s back at work with Arrow Installation, the same company that employed him before the accident, though his role has shifted to one that keeps him firmly on the ground, rather than climbing power poles.

The Rousselle family is also growing. Mike and Brett will adopt their third child in mid-February — a little brother to seven-year-old Montana and three-year-old Jonas.

The hard work of rehabilitation, where he learned to walk again and operate a dynamic prosthetic arm, is mainly behind him, though Rousselle continues to meet with a physical therapist to take on new and different tasks. Cutting-edge advancements in prosthetics have returned to him many of the recreational activities he’s loved all his life, and allowed him to try out a few new ones, like kick-boxing and wakeboarding.

His fear of losing Brett’s devotion, and of never again playing with his kids is long gone. He wrestles with his son, plays hide-and-seek with his daughter and the marriage is stronger than ever.

“My attitude is not to feel limited because of what happened to me,” he said. “I feel like I want to succeed.”

Hodge’s role in Rousselle’s recovery has become something of a legend among WorkSafeBC staff who work with the estimated 1,000 British Columbians who’ve suffered serious, life-changing injuries on the job, including amputations, crushed bones, traumatic head injuries and spinal cord damage.

Jennifer Leyen, director of special care services, said the provincial agency was so inspired by the story, it’s tried to replicate the benefits of peer support using social media and an online discussion board to link newly injured workers, like Rousselle, with those, like Hodge, who can offer first-hand advice and experience.

The program launched Wednesday through a secure extranet site managed by WorkSafeBC. (Canada)

Leyen said the site is meant to be another tool in an injured worker’s recovery.

WorkSafeBC staff members and managers will also be profiled online so clients can come to know more about who they are and why they do the work they do.

“We are asking them [clients] to put themselves on the line and open up, so we have to do the same,” Leyen said.

Hodge likes the idea of online support, but said it’s no replacement for a real, face-to-face encounter.

“It’s that feeling of ‘I’d rather watch a winner than hear about a winner,’” he said.

Rousselle agreed.

He remains grateful for all the love and support he received from family, friends and neighbours following the accident. But there was something special about the lessons he took away from the one, brief afternoon meeting with Hodge.

“Other people can give you the same advice, but it’s different when it comes from someone who has gone through the same things you have gone through,” he said.

[Source: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Weekend+Extra+Learning+live+after+workplace+catastrophe/6029405/story.html]

Posted by your guest blogger Workcovervictim3 😉

Workplace accidents spike in Tasmania include impalement and snake bite

Impalement, a snake bite, acid spills and a fractured skull are just some of the Tasmanian workplace accidents investigated since Christmas.

They are part of a spike in incidents Workplace Standards has investigated since workers returned to work after the Christmas-New Year break.

Workplace Standards general manager Roy Ormerod said the safety watchdog investigated about 10,000 incidents every year.

Workplace accidents spike in Tasmania

However, he said this month’s spike in serious accidents was concerning and followed a similar spike last year.

“It does beg the question what else can or should we do to get people thinking about their safety?” Mr Ormerod said.

He said workplace accidents affected individuals, their families and businesses.

Since Christmas the safety watchdog investigated after:

  • Six workers required medical attention after a fruitpicker platform overbalanced.
  • A worker was impaled on a steel bar after tripping over.
  • A snake handler was bitten by a tiger snake when attempting to remove it from a workplace.
  • A worker was critically injured with head injuries while using a quad bike to herd cattle.
  • A builder fell about two metres from a walkway onto concrete, receiving head and facial injuries.
  • A worker tripped and fell down stairs resulting in a fractured skull.
  • A cleaner was burnt when her backpack vacuum cleaner had electrical problems.
  • An aquaculture worker fractured an arm and dislocated a shoulder.
  • A timber worker sustained broken ribs when he tripped and fell off the back of his truck.

A few lucky escapes were also investigated after a forklift driver pierced a drum of formic acid and there was a major chlorine leak at a Devonport factory.

Mr Ormerod said the number of accidents involving electricity was of concern.

“A lot of the accidents are when equipment strikes overhead wires,” he said.

“It is a fundamental issue that is well-known now look up and look where equipment is going to go before you start moving under wires. You don’t need to touch wires, you just have to get within close proximity to get electrocuted.”

[Source: http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2012/01/30/296481_tasmania-news.html]

 

An annoyed workcover case manager anonymous email

Last night I received quite a shocking anonymous email, undoubtedly from an annoyed workcover Case Manager – or is it a newly re-branded Customer Adviser? The anonymous case manager writes that she has been “in the business” for a long time” and that even the “most polite case managers get sick of talking on the phone or reading and responding to ridiculous emails from claimants”. “This is especially the case”, she writes, “when a claimant uses certain scenarios or buzzwords”. The case manager writes that also “nothing can make her eyeballs roll faster than demanding outrageous, inappropriate services, such as home help, or taxi transport for minor injuries”. Read on… [warning: this will enrage you!]

Things that definitely annoy and irritate the workcover case manager

According to the anonynous  workcover case manager, there is nothing that will make her eyeball roll faster than when claimants use the following “buzzwords:

1. Saying “I tore my rotator ‘cup’ “

The anonymous workcover case manager writes that one of her “personal favourites” is “when the injured worker accidentally misspells a diagnosis”  “I understand that they are trying to talk “shop” with me but please do it correctly. I am not exactly sure where the rotator cup is, but my sharp levels of problem solving can figure out that I think you mean rotator CUFF.  Make a note of it.”

Wow, wow, wow, I say! Mama-mia! Thanks for the tip Case Manager! Mind you, workcovervictimsdiary.com would love to see your medical qualifications! You sound as though you are a medical professor! It is workcovervictimsdiary.com’s understanding that medical, nursing or allied health knowledge and/or experience is NOT a pre-requisite for the title of Case Manager. This is actually a big problem as you guys make daily “medical and like” decisions about our claims, whilst not even knowing what you are dealing with, right? So, perhaps, you are stating your what-YOU-believe-is-funny “rotator cup” story here because it is the only medical term you have learned???? Aworkcovervictimsdiary.com finds it incredibly rude and inappropriate of you to even “laugh” about this, as most injured people have, of course, no medical training themselves, and yet YOU abuse them even more because of it. What is so funny about a person who gets injured at work because of the negligence of their employer? I would love to know if you would still be laughing after you’ll be injured on the job.

2. Saying “I slipped a disc”

“Ah, another favorite”, writes the workcover case manager.  She furthermore writes that she “has been to countless seminars about lower back pain and injury, and has probably handled hundreds of spinal injury cases, ranging from minor to severe, and from non-operative to operative.”

“Is it true that a disc can protrude out and cause pain? Sure it can”. she writes.  “In fact, the disc can herniate, tear, bulge, protrude, fragment, etc.  But I have yet to attend a seminar about a disc that “slips.”  Where does it slip?  Does it slip on the floor?  Does it slip due to some magic force? I am not sure where this buzzword came from, but it will greatly annoy me sure. And I wish it would go away.”

Again, WTF, and how dare you? Again, you sound like a medical professor and we would like to see your medical qualifications, please. The author of this blog happens to be genuinely medically trained and A spinal disc herniation (prolapsus disci intervertebralis) is a medical condition affecting the spine due to trauma, lifting injuries, or idiopathic, in which a tear in the outer, fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral disc (discus intervertebralis) allows the soft, central portion (nucleus pulposus) to bulge out beyond the damaged outer rings, AND IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS A SLIPPED DISC. So what is your f*cking problem, your Majesty? And even if it was not the correct term, so what? Just refer to the medical report, speak with the claimant’s doctor and do your job instead of laughing at someone who sustained such a terribly painful and incapacitating injury! You have no heart! I sincerely hope that you will slip many of your own discs, and may they fall out of your a*se.

3. Saying “workman’s comp”

The anonymous case manager writes in her email ” From my own experience in the ‘business’ I know that women in the workplace can get injured as well.  So if a woman gets injured, should we then call it “workwoman’s comp?”

” Workman’s comp is a horribly dated term, and just plain annoying and makes my eyeballs roll up very fast “.

Again, what can we (injured victims) say about this comment?  You (case manager) are now obviously desperate to find something you can use against us, and, yeah, why not a “word”, for God’s sake? You should know better than anyone else that there are many terms used which refer to workers’ compensation, and that they are pretty confusing. You, from all people, should also be very much aware that Australia is a multicultural country, with many immigrants such as Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greek and Italians just to name a few. Why is it necessary for you to be a racist as well?

 

According to the anonynous  workcover case manager, there is nothing that will make her eyeball roll faster than when claimants use the following “scenarios:

1. Claimants that state they know they should be paid a certain amount for wage loss and disagree with the correct calculation

The said anonymous workcover case manager furthermore writes that she has discovered that there are a lot of people out there that know a lot more than she does.

“I never claimed to know every facet about everything”, she states,  “but if a claimant tries to challenge my ability to do my job, I hope they know what they are talking about. For example, if all I did was incorrectly pay people, especially by underpaying them, then why do I still have a job in this business?  I know that people hear rumors and alleged facts from other people about what they got paid when they were hurt, but that does not make them a qualified case manager that ultimately has to report to WorkSafe (WorkCover)what wages were paid and how we arrived at that amount”.

The fact of the matter is, dear anonymous “qualified super case manager”, that many injured workcover victims are underpaid, point. Many case managers don’t seem to be able to make simple, basic calculations regarding pre-injury average weekly earnings, and as a matter of fact, it even happened to me! I am unsure whether these “miscalculations” are made deliberately or if case managers lack the ability of basic maths, but – let’s face it – the reason why you still have a job, and why you get promoted, is because you save your insurance company money, in any way possible you can.

1. Trying to settle the claim for more than the injury is worth

The anonymous case manager emails me that she “likes to get free money”.  In fact, so she writes, she” likes it a lot.”

“I like it more than working itself.”

She furthermore writes that she  “also sees the same commercials on TV from workcover law firms, which promise thousands upon thousands of dollars rewarded for the pain and suffering from injury.  But that does not mean that the case is worth a million bucks.”

She states that “if your case was worth a million bucks, the injured worker would not even be able to spend the money as he or she would just be too incapacitated”.

The case manager urges plaintiffs (us) to be “reasonable” and “we can settle the claim”. Basically she alleges that almost all injured workcover victims are trying to squeeze money out of the insurance company, which they don’t deserve.

Ahhh! Again, Miss Know-All, the FACT is that YOU (insurance companies) always offer on average 70% of what our injuries are worth!!!! And this is a fact! Who’s talking fair settlements here? Perhaps you ought to familiarise yourself with your insurance company (your employer)’s internal policy documents in the first instance.

How about studying a few real case examples?

Tell me, for example, how is it possible that you (insurance company) offered me 18% total body impairment (with attached lumpsum), but that a week later, the Medical Panel offered me 25% total body impairment (with attached revised lumpsum) for the very same injuries? A difference of a whopping 7 percent, can you explain this? Yeah, right… Gotcha!

3. The injured worker reports being able to only lie on the couch all day immobilised
 

Said workcover case manager furthermore writes that “in addition to being a fan of free money, I daydream about the time in life when all I have to do is lay on the couch”.

She states that many injured “claimants” with “minor injuries”will tell her that they are only able to lie on the couch

and ” present it to be this major ordeal that has rendered the claimant totally disabled from doing anything, especially working.”

Again, I don’t know whether the case manager is referring explicitly to my personal situation, where I discussed a few days ago, that I am so incapacitated that I need to lie on a couch to actually dictate my blog posts on a laptop.Perhaps she is of the opinion that having lost all function in your dominant arm AND having excruciating pain is no big deal and should not be an excuse to “lie on the cough, immobilised”. Perhaps, she does not understand the pain someone experiences from a relatively “minor” back injury either….

So, dear Miss Know-All, I sincerely hope that you will get injured soon on the job and that you may actually experience what it feels like to a) suffer a workplace injury, b) be immobilised all day on a couch from sheer pain and c) have a case manager that does not believe a word of what you say.

4. Fibbing about never having had treatment before for this type of injury
 

“Injured workers fear that the workcover claim may not be believed or accepted, so there is an attempt to try and protect the wage loss by saying this is the first time to have shoulder pain, or knee pain for example”, says the anonymous case manager.

“Part of any normal claim investigation is asking if there are prior injuries or treatment for the injured body part.  All the claimant has to do is be honest.  We are going to be obtaining all medical records that we can find about the claimant, and if we do stumble upon some prior medical history, this is not going to look well.  It will definitely raise a red flag that the claimant is hiding something, and I(the case manager) am going to keep on digging until I feel I have exhausted all my resources.

Again, the anonymous case manager implies here that we, injured workers, always seem to cover up a previous injury to the same body part/area. The fact of the matter is, it is the other way ’round. The case manager will relentlessly digg into our medical files and history in the hope to find something that can be used against us. For example, I have heard from fellow injured victims the following:

  • A man injured his back at work (fractured back) after falling from a ladder. He never had a previous back injury as such. The case manager went digging and digging and found that the man, 23 years previously (!) had on one occasion, complained to his GP of mild back strain after having had to carry his six year old son on his back for 8 kilometers, after his son fell whilst playing and broke his leg. The man was treated with 2 physiotherapy sessions, nothing more.
  • How many injured workcover victims are denied their legit claims when it is accidentally discovered that they had a tiny little bit of arthritis in the affected limb? Arthritis is part of the ageing process, and many older people (50+) will have a tiny little bit of it visible on high resolution scans. This form of ‘arthritis’ is painless and has no symptoms and yet the workcover insurance company will use it to deny a valid claim,say for example for a torn rotator cuff of the shoulder.
  • Then there is my very own ‘story’. My surgeon requested an arthroscopy of my shoulder to help him assess/rule out an infection (osteomyelitis). I had had a partially “reddened, swollen” ring finger a few days before the request, which happened to be mentioned somewhere in the medical notes. Guess what, workcover denied me the arthroscopy of the shoulder (original site of injury 7 years before and already undergone 8 operations) based on “that red finger”, WTF!!!! They kicked the most unbelievable fuss about this “redness” of the finger (but not about the massive redness and swelling of the entire shoulder joint), denied me blood tests, MRIs, and other tests. In the end WorkSafe had to get involved, numerous reports had to be written and it turned out that the “red” finger was nothing more that a mozzy bite. That’s right and I kid you not.

 

The anonymous case manager ends her email with a sickening “So all violators out there take note“!

I am truly offended and I am inclined to say that you (the case manager) ARE the violator and that you better take note.

By the way my eyes are rolled so far, I can’t get them unrolled!


Workers comp won’t allow injured worker new doctor, even after hers died!

A (US) woman is receiving workers’ compensation, but has no doctor for treatment. Lauren Eason is on workers’ compensation for a knee injury. In the fall of 2011, she requested a change of physician, which is allowed, but only one time. But Eason’s second physician, Dr. Harold Chakales, passed away in December. And according to the commission, she is only allowed one request for a change of physician.

which ever way you want to look at it

Workers comp won’t allow injured worker new doctor, even after hers died!

Eason received a letter from the Workers’ Compensation Commission stating “we cannot approve another change in this claim. We are constrained by the law.”

“We’re just kind of in workers’ comp limbo per se,” Eason said.

THV spoke with Alan McClain, the Chief Executive Officer of the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

“There seems to be maybe at least some administrative impediments to getting that order entered. But practically speaking she should be able to see a doctor really soon and we can facilitate that communication…it could take six months. But that’s the long end of it. It would probably be closer to three months,” McClain said.

He added that parties on both sides are hopeful to reach an agreement soon.

THV also spoke with Eason’s attorney. He said there are more than 100 injured workers in limbo because of this “change of physician request.”

He added the Arkansas State House is considering changing the law, to not allow claimants to change physicians at all, but whether that happens remains to be seen.

 

 

[Source: http://www.todaysthv.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=189785]

How absurd is this? Maybe things aren’t quite that bad in Victoria, were we’re at least allowed to choose our own GP’s.

 

Workcover QLD has chosen to ‘rebrand’ its case managers to customer Advisers

WorkCover QLD has chosen to ‘rebrand’ its case managers to reflect the dynamic role they play in facilitating return to work outcomes for the worker and employer. Their new title, Customer Adviser’, reflects the ‘one-stop shop’ nature of their role in advancing mutually beneficial return to work outcomes, which balance the needs of injured workers and employers.

WorkCover QLD has chosen to ‘rebrand’ its case managers to customer Advisers

Teegan Jordan started work at WorkCover Queensland in 2009 as a Claims Representative. Within a year, Teegan has moved into the Customer Services area of the organisation, winning the title of Best New Starter in WorkCover’s internal Awards earlier this year.

“My role as a Customer Adviser is to be the central point of contact for all parties to a claim, and encourage everyone involved in the rehabilitation process to work together to ensure effective return to work outcomes,” she says. “In some instances however, obstacles may be presented during a claim for which a viable resolution must be determined promptly and efficiently to keep the claim on track.”

Overcoming such obstacles is a key component of the Customer Advisor’s role. Teegan names the breakdown of the employer/employee relationship during the course of a claim as one such barrier.

“Miscommunication between parties who are no longer speaking to each other except through the Customer Adviser adds another dimension to our job,” says Teegan. “In such cases, our role is not as a referee. We are not in the business of finger-pointing, but of finding solutions.”

One of her recent cases is a good example. Joe* had a lower back injury, sustained on the job as an electrician. Suitable alternative duties were provided by his employer as set down in the legislation governing workers’ compensation in Queensland, but by the time the duties were offered the relationship had broken down and Joe did not want to remain at the workplace.

Joe’s treating doctor had advised him that he would be unable to ever return to work as an electrician, a further blow for the 28 year-old with no other qualifications or experience and a young family to provide for.

Further complicating Joe’s position was the discovery of a pre-existing underlying condition that had contributed to his current inability to perform normal duties. His condition was found to have been aggravated at work, but not caused by it. WorkCover Queensland was therefore liable for the aggravation, but not for the pre-existing condition.

Mindful of her responsibility to Joe’s employer in terms of keeping insurance premiums to a minimum, Teegan advised Joe that this latest discovery shortened the life of his claim even further. Instead of moving to cease the claim, Teegan worked with Joe towards finding meaningful work elsewhere. (yeah….as if….????)

Teegan set up an interview between Joe and an OT after receiving approval from Joe’s doctor for a functional capacity evaluation. The OT’s report concluded that Joe had the capacity to return to work as an electrician, and all that remained was approval from Joe’s doctor. Once that was granted, Joe was ready to resume work with a host employer.

Teegan was able to source a suitable employer, and as Joe’s functional tolerance increased, his hours increased. By the end of four weeks he had finished his treatment and discharged himself from all specialist care and physiotherapy. At the end of his host program, he got a clearance certificate from his doctor and an offer from his host employer of a full-time position.

“Joe’s attitude underwent a complete turnaround in the course of this process,” says Teegan. “There were so many barriers to Joe making a successful return to work, many of which were coming from him. In the end, he underwent a complete change of attitude.” (the poor bugger didn’t have a choice, did he? duh!)

She nominated him for an award with Q-Comp awards as recognition of his hard work, knowing from personal experience the importance of being acknowledged for one’s efforts. (How pitiful…)

“My role as a Customer Advisor is very rewarding in itself, but to be appreciated for achieving great outcomes with workers and employers by your peers and management team is very motivation and gratifying.”

Awards aside, Teegan finds enough incentive in her work to keep her motivated.

“Winning the Best New Starter award was an absolute honour, however, the greatest reward for me is my job that I love doing every day.”

*Names and details have been changed.

Source by our lovely “None” with a big thank you 😉

[http://www.workcoverqld.com.au/news/2012/return-to-work-matters-article-change-of-name,-change-of-outlook]

What’s next? Case manager getting the title of “Sugar daddy or mommy”? “God Mother”? “God sent Angels” maybe? Time to stick to reality please, and call/title them for what they really are! How about “Benefit Slasher”? “Return to Work Forcer?” And p-e-lease, give them their internal awards called the “Vulture of the month” award, or “Made a Big Kill” award….

Get a life.

 

Privacy limits for social media information: there may be hope

Further to yesterdays blog post about the dangers of using social media, including blogging, particularly during a common law damages claim in a workers compensation claim, it has come to my attention that this very explosive use of social media information as a discovery and an investigatory tool in workers’ compensation matters may soon be reaching its limits as the European Union is proposing privacy data regulations.

The proposed regulations would allow users to shut down and literally obliterate their social media records. It would be enforceable with heavy economic sanctions against social media providers.

Privacy limits for social networking

According to the NY Times article Europe Weighs Tough Law on Online Privacy

 “The proposed law strikes at the heart of some of the knottiest questions governing digital life and commerce: who owns personal data, what happens to it once it is posted online, and what the proper balance is between guarding privacy and leveraging that data to aim commercial or political advertising at ordinary people.”

Europe Weighs Tough Law on Online Privacy

Europe is considering a sweeping new law that would force Internet companies like Amazon.com and Facebook to obtain explicit consent from consumers about the use of their personal data, delete that data forever at the consumer’s request and face fines for failing to comply.

The proposed data protection regulation from the European Commission, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, could have significant consequences for all Internet companies that trade in personal data, whether it is pictures that people post on social networks or what they buy on retail sites or look for on a search engine.

The regulation would compel Web sites to tell consumers why their data is being collected and retain it for only as long as necessary. If data is stolen, sites would have to notify regulators within 24 hours. It also offers consumers the right to transport their data from one service to another — to deactivate a Facebook account, for example, and take one’s trove of pictures and posts and contacts to Google Plus.

The proposed law strikes at the heart of some of the knottiest questions governing digital life and commerce: who owns personal data, what happens to it once it is posted online, and what the proper balance is between guarding privacy and leveraging that data to aim commercial or political advertising at ordinary people.

“Companies must be transparent about what they are doing, clear about which data is being used for what,” the European Commission’s vice president for justice, Viviane Reding, said in a recent telephone interview. “I am absolutely persuaded the new law is necessary to have, on the one hand, better protection of the constitutional rights of our citizens and more flexibility for companies to utilize our Continent.”

Ms. Reding is scheduled to release the proposed regulation on Wednesday in Brussels. The European Parliament is expected to deliberate on the proposal in the coming months, and the law, if approved, would go into effect by 2014.

The regulation is not likely to directly affect American consumers. For American companies, its silver lining is that it offers one uniform law for all 27 countries in Europe. Currently each country, and sometimes, as in the case of Germany, each state, has separate laws about data protection.

Even so, many of the provisions are likely to be costly or cumbersome. And the proposed penalties could be as high as 2 percent of a company’s annual global revenue, according to a European diplomat who did not want to publicly discuss unreleased legislation.

“Individuals are getting more rights. The balance is tilting more to the individual versus the companies,” said Françoise Gilbert, a lawyer in Palo Alto, Calif., who represents technology companies doing business in Europe. “There is very little that’s good for the companies other than a reduction of administrative headaches.”

Perhaps for historical or cultural reasons, Europeans tend to be more invested in issues of data privacy than Americans. Certainly, the proposed regulation is evidence that European politicians consider it to be a more urgent legislative issue than members of the United States Congress. Privacy bills have languished on Capitol Hill. Those that have been proposed, by Senator John Kerry and others, have none of the strict protections included in the draft European regulations.

For the most part, American companies have pushed for a system of self-regulation and regard European-style regulations as a hindrance to innovation.

Ronald Zink, chief operating officer for European affairs at Microsoft, pointed to the potential difficulty of obtaining explicit consent. He gave the example of Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect system, which stores body measurements so it can visually recognize repeat players. He worried that the proposed law would require players to provide consent every time they played a game, even if the information never left the game console, requiring more time and effort on the player’s part. “We have designed the product to be private,” Mr. Zink said. “We put a lot of thought into how this controls our work in terms of privacy by design.”

One of the most contested provisions of the European law is the so-called right to be forgotten, which refers to an Internet user’s right to demand that his or her accumulated data on a particular site be deleted forever. “When a citizen has asked to get it back, then the data has to be given back,” Ms. Reding said in the interview. “When an individual no longer wants his data to be processed, it will be deleted.”

Critics warn that it is not so simple. Data does not always stay in one place; if it is transferred to another company it cannot easily be withdrawn. A company might license some of the data it collects to a third party to analyze market sentiments or social trends: reviews of kebab joints in Amsterdam or public opinion about burqas. Moreover, it may be less feasible to erase someone’s credit history, for instance, or employment record than to, say, do away with her shopping history on Amazon.

“You’re not going to get a unilateral right for someone to say I want you to destroy all the information you have about me,” said David Hoffman, global privacy officer for Intel. “It would be preferable for people to be able to post something and then realize they made a mistake and have it taken down. However, if you were going to do that by law, it’s not going to apply in all contexts, because of situations where it is perfectly reasonable to expect an organization to be able to keep the data.”

Ms. Reding sought to temper expectations when she said in a speech at a technology conference in Germany on Sunday that the law would apply to information that a user had furnished to a Web site, and was not meant to erase unfavorable content about the person online.

“It is clear that the right to be forgotten cannot amount to a right of the total erasure of history,” she said. “Neither must the right to be forgotten take precedence over freedom of expression or freedom of the media.”

Malte Spitz, a Green Party politician from Germany and an advocate for strict data protection laws, said the regulation should restrict how companies hold onto personal information. “Lots of companies are collecting as much information as possible, and lots of this information isn’t really necessary,” Mr. Spitz said. “The right to be forgotten will change the work of companies that are doing profiling or targeted advertising.”

Facebook, which has been investigated by European regulators for its data retention practices, warned last year against rules that might not keep up with the pace of change on the Internet. “There is a risk that an excessively litigious environment would impede the development of innovative services that can bring real benefit to European citizens,” the company said in comments submitted to the European Commission, according to Reuters.

The European regulation, once passed, could serve as a template for other countries, as they draft or revise their data protection policies. “There are very few countries that don’t copy what is happening in Europe,” said Ms. Gilbert, who has written a book on privacy laws worldwide.

Related articles

Google tackles online privacy in unusual ad blitz

Google is focusing on the importance of protecting personal information in an unusual marketing campaign for a company that has been blasted for its own online privacy lapses and practices.

Facebook settles US privacy case

Facebook has agreed to tighten its privacy policies and submit to external audits in order to settle charges that it abused users’ personal data.

 

:o

Workcover and blogging, a bad combination?

Would you be surprised if I told you that those photos you uploaded to Facebook, or that video of your child’s basketball game now playing on YouTube,or that this very blog may be harmful to its injured author, or even that your restaurant “check-in” on Yelp could cost you thousands of dollars and seriously undermine your workcover case? Unfortunately all of these things have happened to men and women pursuing work injury claims.

If you did not realise this already, understand that privacy in Australia (and many other countries) is pretty much dead.   If you participate in social media like: Facebook, My Space, Yelp, Tumblr, WordPress (blogging), Blogger, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and many more, information about your entire life can be available to anyone who is looking.   And you can bet that insurance case managers and insurance defense lawyers are looking.

While private eye surveillance is still used, insurance defense also run searches for you on various social media platforms.   If they see you running, jumping, lifting or doing anything inconsistent with your claimed injury, they will use that video, photograph or post as grounds to cut off your benefits and/or undermine your potential common law compensation.

 

 

To reinforce this very serious issue (and I know I have blogged about many times), I am using a very recent injured worker’s (who is protecting his identity) pretty alarming letter from his solicitor regarding his blog. The excerpt reads:

I am concerned that it [ your blog] may become an issue during your claim for economical loss.  For example, our opponents may use extracts from your blog, or direct correspondence to the Defendant or [your insurance company] to demonstrate your ability to undertake an office, or computer based job…..

My severely injured friend, who wants to remain anonymous obviously, is authoring an increasingly popular blog and writes virtually daily (or his friend/spouse does when he can’t because of his pain) about his struggles with the workcover system. He also posts news articles and exposes workcover insurance scams and enters comments on a more personal level. He has extreme difficulty typing and needs various ergonomic appliances to do so, and often his spouse or his mate will actually do the typing of his dictated posts (blogs).

So, to say that the injured worker is “proving” that he can work a desk or computer job because he can blog (although he uses dictation and his spouse) is, in my seriously injured opinion, totally outrageous. But that is exactly what an insurance defense lawyer will try to prove…. and s/he will – of course – manipulate and twist “the blogging” in any possible way imaginable just to “prove” that point. Isn’t this just sickening?

The “blogging” injured worker- between brackets- is up to his eyeballs on narcotics, is severely sleep deprived because of the intolerable pain and needs frequent Nana-naps during the day. Because of his severe depression and his extreme frustration at the workcover system in general (and more particularly at his own workcover insurance carrier), his very own treating psychiatrist urged him to start the blog, or “on-line diary” as a way to “vent” and externalise his rage and frustration. It was meant as a therapeutic way to help the injured guy literally cope with his life-altering injuries and disabilities and with his secondary psychological/psychiatric injuries!

The injured person has no work capacity, his own specialists do not see him return to work, and what’s more, the three or four independent medical examinators he was sent to by the insurance company also certified him unfit for all work, due to the severity of his injuries.

Workcover and social media, including blogging, a bad combination

Workcover and Social media

A friend of mine tells the story of an injured worker  who decided to video her son’s high school wrestling match and thereafter uploaded it to YouTube.   At one point the video shows the claimant climbing  bleachers, then jumping   up and down to cheer her son.   Unfortunately this woman was asserting a work injury to her hips and lower back that she claimed was disabling.   When confronted with the video, she insisted that the wrestling match was a one-time event and that she ended up in bed for a week  thereafter.   The workcover  judge did not accept this argument and upheld the insurance company’s termination of benefits.   A case that could have settled for $50,000 to $75,000 ended up
settling for peanut value of less than $5,000.

Workcover and Blogging

It just shows to what we , injured workers, are reduced to  criminals, living in constant fear, paranoia, as if we’re doing something wrong by being seriously injured and by being impaired.

I think it is insane that we are not  allowed to express ourselves on a blog or use social media out of fear that the defense will twist and turn things as to hold stuff against us.

Workcover and writing complaint letters

Workcover have been known to use letters of complaint written by injured workers against them….
showing them to doctors and asking them to give an opinion that if they can write letters can they do an office job… :o

Beware of Workcover. They are a sick organisation that is bleeding internally and has no direction. It even needs its own policies to “ensure” that justice is fair for all injured workers – they have no morals, no ethics and no sense of fairness.

This has been validated by a lawyer as well!

[As posted on our forum]

 

Its yet another reason the current workcover & justice system is broken.

 

Shortlink: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/?p=4224

Workcover and dealing with scary setbacks

After a serious workplace injury (or illness), you worked extremely hard to obtain workcover benefits and to get  your medical condition treated or stabilised. Unfortunately, as it often happens, your quest to heal has been anything but straight forward. Perhaps you initially suffered some kind of injury to your musculoskeletal system – severe carpal tunnel syndrome, for instance, brought on by working a desk job somewhere  – but your diagnosis got complicated, after you noticed that the numbness and tingling sensations extended beyond the afflicted area.

Alternatively, perhaps you suffered spinal damage after falling from a ladder while on painting a wall, and the extent of the nerve damage has only recently manifested, leaving both you and your doctors relatively depressed about your prognosis.

Or take my case – a relatively straight forward assault at work (by a patient) that resulted in a dislocated shoulder. Initially we thought I’d just suffered an anterior (forwards) dislocations, until (2 years later) it was picked up that I had also suffered a posterior (backwards) dislocations, which is extremely unusual and is normally only seen in electrocutions! And then I developed CRPS, if that wasn’t enough to cripple me, a major artery (subclavian artery) was found to be kinked and them completely blocked, leaving my arm pulse-less and requiring emergency surgery. Following 8 major surgeries to that shoulder, and 2 life threatening heart complications during surgery (heart failure), I was eventually left with an irreparable dominant shoulder, the joint totally destroyed by osteoarthritis and the shoulder totally  unstable because of end stage rotator cuff failure….

But setbacks with your workers’ compensation recovery are not exclusively medical.

You might for example experience psychological setbacks, such as severe depression, anxiety, frustration, and loss of self-confidence. You might simultaneously suffer financial setbacks, as you are compelled to pay for complicated, extensive treatment and rehab (upfront) – all while making do with a reduced income stream (provided you do get your weekly payments that is).

What’s worse, the various workcover  injury/illness-related stresses in your life can play off of one another, provoking a real downward spiral. For instance, in you are more agitated,  or in an anxious state, you may hold your body tighter and experience higher cortisol levels, which can in turn exacerbate the musculoskeletal damage you suffered at work, not to mention the painful muscle spams you will inevitably suffer as well.

Repairing physical, psychological, and financial damage is no small task, even for the well prepared and the tough cookies among us.

Workcover and dealing with scary setbacks

While  injured workers can make significant progress by working with a reputable workcover / personal injury lawyers, you still could face some pretty profound hurdles to long-term wellness.

It’s tempting to try to “deal with” all these setbacks at once, but this approach can also be discouraging.

Instead, make an attempt to incorporate small, positive changes in your life, behaviours, and perspective.

Just getting your e-mail under control, for instance, can restore a modicum of control and help you manage your setbacks in a more thoughtful, less reactive way.

Also, remember that even though your injury or illness might have taken just a second or even a fraction of a second to develop, doesn’t mean that you can solve the situation in a lightning-quick fashion. Instead, keep your eye on the “long road of recovery,” accept your reality for what it is, and begin to make progress, step-by-step, to move beyond the setbacks you encountered and rebuild your life, career, health, and future to the best of your ability.

Interesting Web Resources:

Small changes that can make a big difference to your workcover nightmare journey

To potentially manage these setbacks, you might find it helpful to adopt proven strategies and tactics to keep yourself better organised, more in control of your life, more relaxed, and more resilient.

Hopefully I can encourage you to take the process of self improvement more seriously with an example of a few small but effective “good habits” to inculcate to relieve the stress of your workcover journey.

  • Get into the habit of keeping your e-mail inbox “at zero”. This covers everything (paperwork) that you still need to cover/get to/submit to workcover (e.g accounts, complaints, ACCS filing etc.)
  • Spend more time and energy thinking through your problems instead of acting impulsively to solve them. Do the mental work of clarifying an ideal outcome, assessing your “on the ground reality,” and brainstorming ideas to move from your present reality to your idealised future in an effective, sure-fire, cheap, and easy way. In other words, seek to break out of the habit of “acting before thinking.”
  • Seek help and outside input. It’s often very difficult for victims of workplace injuries or accidents to ask for help, because victims already feel like their pride and autonomy have been compromised. Consciously break through that barrier and get help from friends, colleagues, family members, and outside resources. This includes the help form a competent lawyer.
  • Test “catastrophic thinking.” When we get hurt or injured – when our welfare, health, social status, etc., are threatened by events or by other people – we have a tendency to imagine worst-case, catastrophic outcomes. This is a normal, human thinking, and it’s not necessarily deleterious. In fact, it can be helpful to be vigilant, depending on the situation. However, we always want to test the reality of our thoughts – especially thoughts that agitate us, keep us from sleeping, or scare us into spending hours on the Internet searching for a description and diagnosis of our symptoms.
  • Thinking realistically is different from being a pollyanna. You don’t want to ignore dangerous symptoms, be they indicators of medical, financial, or psychological problems. On the other hand, we also want to detach our emotions and fears from our thoughts and seek to see them with a clear, objective lens.
  • How do you cultivate this kind of clear-headed thinking? Some experts recommend engaging in daily meditative practice, such as mindful mediation, concentrated “prayer”, or some other exercise that enhances focus and helps you avoid getting sucked up into catastrophic thinking.

Interesting Web Resources:

Yes, yes I know, quite a “phylosophical” post…. needless to say that I have been up all night (in extreme, head-banging pain) and spent the night surfing away, pondering my demise…. 🙁

case-manager-workcover-insurer

Dealing with workcover case manager

Workcover isurance case manager are, in my opinion, for the most part, not very nice people in a tough job. They are caught in between the workcover insurance company that wants them to control the claim costs, and you, the claimant, who wants the best or most reasonable benefits you are entitled under the law.

Continue Reading…

WorkCover defeats dodgy pretender for once

The spectacular collapse in may of last year (2011) of a “deceitful” plaintiff’s injury compensation claim was for once a magnificent vindication of the (usually unsubstantiated) suspicions that insurers invariably hold of workplace injury claimants.

Not that Jai Monger – a 30 yr old process worker who was injured in October 2008 on his first day on-the-job in Caloundra – would have been hard to spot as a chancer.

Leaving aside his undistinguished pre-accident work history and convictions involving dishonesty, Monger concealed his regular post-injury gym sessions that sometimes occured on the same day he denied them to his WorkCover case manager.

Combined with the to-be-expected inconsistent accounts of his injuries to doctors, the threats he made against a WorkCover assessor and the job network manager, he was “a particularly unimpressive witness in all respects”.

But there is more to this sad tale. Monger was involved in a subsequent car accident after apparently attempting to evade payment of a taxi fare. And – as you probably guessed – he failed to disclose those injuries to the medical experts in this case.

WorkCover and its lawyers, McInnes Wilson, did not need to descend to covert surveillance to demolish this charlatan. According to his honour, Mr Monger was “a witness given to saying whatever he believed would assist this case”.

Having enjoyed Centrelink benefits for a nine-year pre-accident period, his disclosed earnings over that time averaged about $6.50 per week. The supreme court had no difficulty in finding that he was capable of earning “much more” in the future than he had before the accident.

The court assessed nil for future economic loss and noting “the impairment which the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the injury can only be described as modest”, general damages of $5,000. Special damages and past loss of income were allowed at slightly more than what WorkCover had already paid, giving a total of $21,000.

After taking into account the WorkCover refund, judgment was entered for the plaintiff for just $7,400. Being thankful for small mercies, the trial lasted only one day but unfortunately for our luckless plaintiff, he was also ordered to pay the defendant’s costs.

Monger v Camwade Pty Ltd [2011] QSC 097 Martin J 5/05/2011

But, hang on, what else is going on in that company

An interesting case, sure. But read on…. Another anonymous worker reports that he worked for the same company and that it was “the worst time of his life”. He says that fights broke out between the foremen and plant employees, abuse of the foulest kind took place, and that you were not allowed to speakup because if you did you were told that you would be responsible for the sacking of the entire shift.

If that is not enough, the anonymous worker tells of a ” bashing and raping of a female security guard by a member of staff at an office party” and that in the subsequent investigation the police were bribed by management.
He further and righlty states that stress, brought on by frequent abuse and harassment I found out, is also ignored by the Victorian Workcover Authority. This is especially so when [the company] accused by him in a Workcover statement of openly fostering stress to increase productivity and get rid of people they think are not on the same page as them. “Workcover stated it did not find any signs of stress at the company and refused to investigate his claims of bribery of his barrister and used every means whether fair or foul to prevent the company from being charged or even having their names mentioned.

About three months prior to the bribery at the Workcover hearing, the company’s manager issued written instructions that he’d be stopped at the gate of the company Coolaroo and pick up his Workcover wages at the gatehouse. He still have those written instructions, he writes

Complaints about the bribery accusations are ignored by politicians, workcover and police. The ombudsman refused to act because a minister  was involved. A director of workcover phoned him and said ‘Bribery was nothing to get worried about as it happens all the time in cases like this.’ She refused to put it in writing.

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Isn’t this exactly why employees that suffer an injury are too scared and paranoid about pursuing legit compensation cases?

The fraud attempts by some affect the majority who require the assistance of WorkCover and the possible option of a Common Law Claim.

People who scam insurance companies also spoil legit cases and even damage the perception of our medical practitioners and specialists.

Workers that actually require the services that WorkCover and Insurance companies provide struggle to continue with Compensation claims as they begin to feel guilt and don’t want to be labelled as faking an injury by friends, family and co-workers. Life after an injury is hard enough, let alone dealing with outsiders who will judge due to the few that scam our system….

 

Shortlink: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/?p=4174