Friday 22 February 2013

Injured worker jailed for fraud

An injured worker who fraudulently obtained more than $50,000 in compensation payments for an injury, yet continued to work for other companies in Western Australia, has been jailed for three months.

Robert Howard, 53, of Mt Rowan, pleaded guilty yesterday at the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court to one count of fraudulently obtaining weekly compensation payments.

The court heard Howard was working at Ballarat Goldfields Pty Ltd in 2009 when he suffered a shoulder injury and began submitting certificates of capacity that stated he was unable to work.

But a WorkSafe investigation found Howard was working in Western Australia for various mining companies between June 2010 and July 2011.

The court was told Howard would regularly travel from WA to his medical practitioners in Victoria so he could continue receiving certificates that stated he couldn’t work.

He even organised for his compensation payments to be deposited into a separate bank account from his mining wages.

Magistrate Frank Jones convicted and sentenced Howard to nine months in jail, with six months to be suspended for two years. He was also ordered to repay $54,000.

WorkSafe Injury Support and Service Executive Director, Len Boehm, said the matter was a serious case of fraud which occurred over an extended period.

“The vast majority of injured workers, and there’s about 29,000 new claims every year, want to do the right thing, want their lives back and to get back to work but there will always be a minority that will be tempted to do the wrong thing,” he said..

“The challenge for us is to make sure we detect these people and hold them to account.

“The compensation system is set up to support people who have been hurt and help get them back into the workforce and wider community life as soon as possible.”

Further Information

WorkSafe media enquiries: Rosanna Bonaccurso: 0478 305 640, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Peter Flaherty: 0478 881 663, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.