Skip to content

What injuries and illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation?

People with a range of different injuries, illnesses or diseases may be able to receive workers’ compensation.

Generally, the injury or disease needs to be attributable to the person’s employment. These types of conditions are sometimes also called ‘work-related’.

Health issues that are not related to work are not typically covered by workers’ compensation, for example an illness or injury that started before a person entered the workforce.

The rules vary between states and territories, and also for some conditions there are stricter rules around whether they are covered by workers’ compensation.

For instance, it can be more difficult to demonstrate that a mental illness was ‘caused by’ work, given that other factors in a person’s life may also contribute to that illness. This is less of a problem for a traumatic physical injury (such as a fracture) that occurs in the workplace.

While the specific rules vary by type of condition and by state and territory, here are some common types of injuries and illness that we usually see in workers’ compensation systems in Australia:

  • Traumatic Injury. These include injury such as fractures, wounds, lacerations, brain or spinal injury. These typically result from falls, slips, trips, being struck by objects, machinery accidents, or other accidents in the workplace.
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders. These usually develop over time and include things such a back and neck pain, shoulder and knee problems, tendonitis and arthritis.
  • Occupational Diseases. These are diseases or health conditions that result from exposure to hazardous substances or conditions in the workplace, such as respiratory illnesses, cancers, skin diseases and infections.
  • Mental Health conditions. These include mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder which may be caused or exacerbated by work-related factors, such as workplace trauma, stress or harassment.
  • Pre-existing conditions aggravated by work. If a pre-existing condition is aggravated or worsened due to work, it may also be covered under workers’ compensation.

It is important to check the rules in your jurisdiction to determine if your injury or illness is covered by the workers’ compensation scheme in your area.