An increase in shoulder injuries in the workplace has resulted in the release of new guidelines to prevent workplace injury. The investigation estimated that 2 out of 3 incidents of shoulder pain is due to rotator cuff complaints.

Which industries and occupations are at risk of shoulder injury?

There are two main sources of workplace incidents resulting in rotator cuff injuries:

  1. Slips, trips or falls, resulting in a direct impact (this includes motor vehicle incidents) or;
  2. Overuse injuries, caused by repetitive overhead activities.

Professions that require overhead work have been identified as particularly high risk for shoulder injuries. These include Painters, Carpenters, Builders, Slaughter House Workers and Heavy Machinery Operators.

What compensation is available for rotator cuff and other shoulder injuries?

Medical Costs

Given the complex nature of the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles and ligaments it’s important to get the correct diagnosis of your injury. Unless you’ve been involved in serious trauma, your first step will involve a visit to your GP. They will usually refer you to a specialist, and this may involve x-rays or MRIs, prescription of pain medication, and the use of medical supports or apparatus.

You may be able to claim your out of pocket expenses including travel cost and the costs of your scans and consultations.

Strict time limits apply to your ability to make a claim. Depending on the nature of your claim (eg. work injury or personal injury) these can vary from 6 months to 3 years.


It is not uncommon for rotator cuff injuries to require surgery.

Most often this involves re-attaching the tendon to the head of the humerus (upper arm bone). A partial tear, however, may need only a trimming or smoothing procedure called a debridement. A complete tear is repaired by stitching the tendon back to its original site on the humerus.

Recovery from surgery can take up to 6 months, depending on the size of the tear. It’s also possible that you’ll be required to wear a sling for 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure.


If you are fortunate enough to not require surgery, you will almost certainly need some rehabilitation services for your rotator cuff injury. This may involve physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture. As well as the purchase of ergonomic aids.

Care and Assistance

Your injury may prevent you from performing tasks that you currently take for granted. Mowing the lawn, driving, DIY and other jobs around the house. If this is the case, you may be entitled to claim for outside help from paid contractors or compensation for the extra support provided by friends and family.

Strict rules apply in Queensland for this type of compensation, it’s worth checking with one our claims specialists if you have any questions.

Loss of income and future earnings

Being unable to work because of your injury places you and your family under extra stress. You may be entitled to claim for your loss of earnings for the period you were unable to work. There’s also a chance depending on the nature of your injury that you won’t be able to work at the same capacity, or in the same role prior to your injury. If this is the case, you may be able to claim compensation for your reduced earning capacity.

Loss of superannuation

It goes without saying that if you’re unable to earn as much due to your injury, that your super fund contributions will also be reduced. This will also be taken into account when calculating your compensation claim.

General Damages

In addition to the specific damages highlighted above (often referred to as economic damages). You may also be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced, as well as any reduction in your quality of life as a result of your injuries.

General Damages in Queensland are determined according to the Injury Scale Value (ISV). The scale ranges from 1 to 100 depending on the seriousness of the injury. At the time of writing the mid-point general damages for a score of 50 would be $137,500.

Getting your life back on track

If you have suffered a shoulder injury how can you restore the balance, and your quality of life?

If you haven’t already received medical support or treatment for your injury or your recovery is taking longer than expected, it might be worth seeking the help and support of an injury law specialist who offers rehab funding. This can assist you with treatment and rehabilitation costs when you need it most.

Claiming compensation under WorkCover Queensland

If your injury happened at work or on your journey to or from work it’s likely that you will be insured by WorkCover Queensland.

The WorkCover process can seem daunting especially if you are trying to manage your recovery and get your life back on track.

At Splatt Lawyers we have expert work injury lawyers with particular expertise in handling workplace injury claims who can guide you through this complicated process. We offer a free initial consultation where our lawyers will assess your claim, explain your rights and what you can expect throughout the legal process.

What if you can no longer work due to your injury?

Sometimes due to bad luck, or a combination of factors outside of your control, you may end up being involved in an accident with more serious and permanent consequences. In such a case, you may be eligible to make a TPD claim through your superannuation fund and be entitled to receive a lump sum payment.

Workplace Shoulder Injury?

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