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Injured at work. Light duties taking a toll

Community Member

I hurt my shoulder a month ago and reported it to work almost 2 weeks ago when it didn't get better.


They put me on light duties and after a week, I decided to see a physio. He determined I have a rotator cuff injury. I'm in constant (low level) pain.


He restricted my duties to the point where I literally can't do my job (I work at Coles in the online department). So, work put me in the bakery and I stood there for 5 hours putting stickers on bread. Couldn't even lift the bread because of my restrictions.


I decided to escalate the claim to workcover because my shoulder is just getting worse. I wish I never even mentioned it.


The physio and the GP had heavy restrictions (no lifting, no pushing/pulling, no reaching). But still saying I can work 8 hours a day 5 days a week. Make it make sense?


Anyway, I got told yesterday they are putting me in the checkouts. And I can't. There's a reason I never applied to work on checkouts. Also, I still can't do anything on checkouts with my restrictions.


I think they want me to give people cigarettes. Again, I can't do that. No reaching, no pushing or pulling (drawers).


This whole situation is making me feel so useless and depressed. I wish my gp had just said no capacity to work.


I'm a casual and next week, they've cut my hours to 5. I usually work about 20.

I can't just find another job because I'm pregnant and only have about 12 weeks left of working before I have the baby

2 Replies 2

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome and I hope I can help.


Briefly- I've had 3 workplace injuries spanning 42 years in the workplace. One was accepted and I was off for 10 months on anxiety/stress related injury then changed professions. Two were minor injuries that were not accepted and I was forced back into the jobs I held and managed to survive the ridiculous system that encouraged pretending I no longer had the injury.  But also, and relevant to your situation in some ways is my business I ran for nearly 20 years as a workcover investigator. I've been retired for 11 years.


To put it bluntly the workcover system anywhere in Australia is not IMO a system that "cares" for their claimants. Why? the real reason is the level of fraud with claims. The cycle is like this- A fraudulent claimant has or pretends to have an workplace accident, they go off work and make a claim, regardless if or not it is accepted by the insurance company they seek legal representation and wait many years for settlement or if found clearly to be fraudulent, lose any claims and they have to pay legal costs. Hence investigators like me were seen as nasty people trying to "catch them out" but in reality we only tried finding out the truth so companies had lower premiums because the more claims th higher the costs.


Now that means with the vast experience in that field I've come to the conclusion that - yes the system is unjust but that doesnt mean you can do anything about it. It creates a poor workplace because the guy that works less is less likely to get an injury, the harder you work the more likely to get an injury and be punished for that- weird eh? 


Being cynical I suspect that your manager has put you on the checkouts to test you knowing full well of your restrictions. They cut your hours because of a few reasons- to maintain your 20 hours of work is to extend their liability if you went off work again, this time they can say "but we cut her hours down to 5 so she can rest her shoulder"  !!! So what do you do?


My answer is- to expand your communication with management to portray a genuine person that wants to work with the condition that until you go off work to give birth, then months off for leave then when you return you are hopeful that your shoulder will be back to normal or near enough to accept and duties given to you. "I have 11 weeks left before I take maternity leave boss, if I can be given duties that will preserve my arm until then I'm hopeful I will return fit for normal duties upon my return. I'd like appropriate duties with my shoulder but I am determined to work like anyone else and dont want to be seen as bludging". That would give management some planning and hope that you indeed are not one of the very common fraudulent types that exaggerate their injury.


Thats my refection and it might not be fully accurate depending upon managements mentality to the topic. I cant talk for them but employees workplace injuries cause management various issues like juggling employees, rosters and so on, injuries complicate the processes and yes, they should be compassionate as well.


I hope I've got it in context for you. The other issue is the doctor controls when and how you re-enter the workplace which is non negotiable.


Repost anytime I'm here daily.



Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

No peace with unrelenting pain - 'it only hurts when I breathe" is the best way I can describe it!

So you have injured only one shoulder? That would make your productivity 50% as I found when receiving a 'frozen shoulder' injury a while ago - completely debilitating, and my 'dominant' arm too.

The tricky thing for me was remembering not to automatically reach/lift/push/pull without thinking. I should have used a sling to prevent this, but sometimes you just need two hands no matter what.

Any chance you could be put into Admin (one handed data entry, receiving calls, etc)? Surely anything less physical would seem appropriate.