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For: Claimants Advocates Information seekers

Employees play an important role in helping keep the ship or unit safe and setting the workplace health and safety standards. As an employee, you should also be aware of your rights and responsibilities relating to workers’ compensation.

Claims and rehabilitation responsibilities

Definition of an employee

An employee may be a seafarer or a trainee under the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act).

See Who is covered for definitions of seafarer and trainee under legislation.

Responsibilities when making a claim

When making a claim under the Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act) and to ensure the best chance of a quick and full recovery and return to work, there are actions you should undertake.

The Claims Management Best Practice guide (PDF, 489.8 KB) provides an overview of the claims process, including your rights and responsibilities .

Reporting the injury

  • Provide written notice to your employer of any accident, injury or illness as soon as possible. If your employer does not have an incident report form for this purpose, you can provide written notice by letter or email.
  • As soon as possible after an accident, injury or illness you should seek medical attention and, where appropriate, obtain a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner which gives a diagnosis of your injury and details all other relevant information.

Claims process

  • Accurately complete a seafarers compensation claim form and provide a medical certificate to the employer.
  • Attend medical examinations that your employer arranges.
  • Advise your employer, as soon as possible, of any changes in circumstances such as recovery from injury or illness, other work participated in while away from the workplace, and any changes in address.
  • Notify your employer if you, your dependants or another person, start legal action about your work-related injury or illness. This must be done in writing within seven days of starting the legal action.
  • Let your employer know if you become aware that you have made a misleading statement, such as on a claim form. False or misleading statements may lead to delays in a decision on the claim. In certain cases, it may also lead to action being taken under the Crimes Act 1914.

For more information on the claims process, see Making a claim for workers' compensation.

Rehabilitation and return to work

  • Where required, participate in any rehabilitation program agreed to with your employer and approved rehabilitation provider. They will work with you to achieve a full return to work where appropriate.
  • Cooperate with any approved rehabilitation provider to remain at work or to facilitate a safe and, if possible, an early return to work.
  • Where required, implement any professionally recommended and agreed changes to work practices, workplace environment or the home environment in consultation with the employer to minimise the chance of further injuries or accidents.
  • Maintain communication with your employer, rehabilitation provider and work colleagues.

For more information on the rehabilitation and return to work process, see Supports for your recovery and benefits.

Occupational health and safety responsibilities

Definition of an employee

An employee, under occupational health and safety legislation, means a person who is:

  • employed by an operator on a prescribed ship or prescribed unit, or
  • on board a prescribed ship or prescribed unit and has a work agreement in force for the purposes of the Navigation Act 2012.

Duties of employees

As an employee, you have duties and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 (OHS(MI) Act).

Work safely

  • Do your work in a way that does not risk personal health and safety, or the health and safety of others.

Help others to do their duties

  • Help others, including the ship operator, to meet their duties and responsibilities under the Act.

Act on hazards

  • Do not ignore something that you notice is hazardous, just because you did not create the hazard. Immediately report all accidents or near misses.
  • If in doubt about whether a situation is hazardous, ask a supervisor or your health and safety representative (HSR).

Use equipment

  • Use equipment that is supplied to protect your personal health and safety or the health and safety of others and follow any instructions that are provided to safely use the equipment.

For a full list of your duties, see the Occupational Health and Safety (Maritime Industry) Act 1993 (OHS(MI) Act).

Failure to comply with duties under the OHS(MI) Act may result in compliance action, including penalties such as criminal prosecution.

Practical strategies

Communicating and consulting effectively

Importance of communication and consultation

Communication and consultation are vital to building a strong health and safety culture and minimising injury and illness in the workplace.

This process involves:

  • talking about issues
  • listening to and raising concerns
  • understanding your role
  • seeking information and sharing views
  • discussing issues in a timely manner
  • considering what is being said before decisions are made
  • attending scheduled meetings.

Contributing to consultation as an employee

You can contribute by:

  • talking with your work group
  • giving feedback on policy and procedures when asked.

Participation in consultation provides you with an opportunity to:

  • think constructively about health and safety issues that affect you
  • contribute ideas for improvement

When you should be consulted

Your employer is required to consult with you on any matters that may directly affect your health and safety. If you are a HSR or represented by a HSR, then you or your HSR, must also be included in the consultation.

There are number of situations when your employer is required to consult with you. They include:

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks arising from work
  • making decisions about ways to eliminate or minimise those risks
  • making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of employees
  • proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of employees
  • making decisions about the procedures for resolving health and safety issues
  • monitoring the health of employees or workplace conditions, information and training or consultation with employees.

Talking to your health and safety representative (HSR)

Your health and safety representative (HSR) is your main point of contact regarding health and safety matters, so inform them of any concerns or safety issues you may have. HSRs represent employees in relation to health and safety matters affecting employees.

Having your HSR represent your work group can help because:

  • a HSR is likely to understand your views and concerns
  • HSRs can be trained in work health and safety and in how to represent you
  • a coordinated and formal approach to raising ideas and concerns with your employer can have greater impact
  • HSRs have rights and powers to take action on your behalf.

Reporting an OHS concern

Employees are encouraged to speak with their employer or health and safety representative (HSR) about their concern in the first instance, if comfortable to do so. This ensures that the employer is aware of the work health and safety concern and provides them with an opportunity to resolve the issue.

If you are unable to speak with your employer or HSR, or do not believe that reasonable efforts are being made to resolve the issue, an involved union may assist in facilitating a resolution.

If you are an employee, you can inform the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) of an occupational health and safety concern. Email or call 1800 627 484. See Occupational health and safety inspectorate on the AMSA website for further details.

Page last reviewed: 26 April 2022
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Date printed 21 May 2024