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News headings from LabourStart

K&S and Comcare Cut Injured Payments

« Back to News Articles K&S and Comcare Cut Injured Payments

Larry Wilson had just finished lifting and installing the heavy gates onto his K&S Regal semi-trailer when he was suddenly hit by a forklift in the transport company’s Kalamunda yard.

The 63 year old truckie was knocked to the ground and lay unconscious outside the firm’s office until the fork-lift driver eventually managed to shake him awake.

The forkie tried to assist Larry to his feet but the dizziness forced him back down onto the bitumen where he sat in a dazed state for 15 minutes.

When fellow employees eventually got him to his feet he was bundled into a ute and taken to a medical clinic in Kewdale.

Since the incident in June 2012 he has had to contend with constant pain and the frustration of failed attempts to fix injuries to his neck, back, shoulder and hip.

Injured workers who suffer chronic pain know that side effects, such as insomnia and irritability, coupled with financial consequences, also put enormous pressure on loved ones. This occurred in Larry’s case and sadly, his marriage has broken down.

Making matters worse he is now also bogged down in the quagmire that is the Comcare workers compensation system.

Larry’s miserable life has taken a sharp turn for the worse. He describes it as, living a nightmare

Back in August he innocently drove his little Toyota Yaris to his local shopping centre to buy a few necessities of life including his prescription medication.

Unbeknown to him a Comcare investigator had been tracking him with a video camera and had followed him to the shops and sat in the car park filming him.

When Larry came out of the shops he was pushing a shopping trolley with ‘a few bibs and bobs’ nothing heavy. The investigator captured the perfectly innocent action on film

Larry later found out the private dick had also photographed him doing other menial things such as, walking into Bunnings going into the movies, and washing his dog.

Armed with this ‘highly dubious’ evidence, Comcare took their pictures to a doctor of their choosing who made a remarkable prognosis.

He concluded that because Larry could drive his tiny Toyota Yaris, he was therefore capable of going back to driving a K&S Regal semi-trainer – which by the way, requires the lifting and assembling of 25 kilogram gates.

Several other medical practitioners, including two specialists, say this is absolute nonsense and that he is not fit to return to driving trucks – any truck!

Apart from the severe injuries that Larry is suffering there is also the heavy pain killers that he has been prescribed. He takes about 12 per day.

Clearly the drugs that Larry is on would make it impossible to do his job driving heavy vehicles. He would undoubtedly be a SERIOUS DANGER to other road users.

Even K&S Regal local managers have told our senior organiser Mick Connolly that Larry is not getting back into one of their trucks while he is on medication.

None of this has convinced Comcare and K&S managers sitting in their comfortable offices in Mount Gambier that forcing Larry back to driving a semi is abject stupidity.

On October 9 the K&S workers compensation department wrote to tell Larry that because he didn't report back for work PAYMENTS WOULD CUT OUT. And so would payment for his pain-killers and other medication.

Since that date he has used up all his accrued sick and annual leave. He has no income and has had to go cap in hand to Centrelink

It is easy to forget that Larry is the victim in this story. Prior to being hit by the forklift he was a fit, strong and hardworking bloke. The incident has crippled him and he is in a very depressed state.

It’s wrong!

The TWU lawyers Slater & Gordon have lodged an urgent application with the Comcare Tribunal challenging the decision to stop Larry’s payments. The application will be heard on December 18.

Unfortunately, this is just the first part of an excruciating process that is often drawn out far longer than it should be. Great powers of patience and perseverance are required.

Stay tuned for updates.