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Impact of legislative reform on benefit access and disability duration in workers’ compensation: an interrupted time series study
  1. Alex Collie,
  2. Dianne Beck,
  3. Shannon Elise Gray,
  4. Tyler Jeremiah Lane
  1. School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Prof Alex Collie, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia; alex.collie{at}


Objectives To determine the impact of legislative changes to the New South Wales (NSW) workers’ compensation scheme on injured workers access to benefits, insurer claim processing and work disability duration.

Methods Population-based interrupted time series study of workers’ compensation claims made in NSW 2 years before and after legislative amendment in June 2012. Outcomes included incidence of accepted claims per 100 000 workers, the median and 75th percentile insurer decision time in days, and the median and 75th percentile of work disability duration in weeks. Effects were assessed relative to a comparator of seven other Australian workers’ compensation jurisdictions.

Results n=1 069 231 accepted workers’ compensation claims were analysed. Claiming in NSW fell 15.3% following legislative reform, equivalent to 46.6 fewer claims per 100 000 covered workers per month. This effect was greater in time loss claims (17.3%) than medical-only claims (10.3%). Across models, there were consistent trend increases in insurer decision time. Median work disability duration increased following the legislative reform.

Conclusions The observed reduction in access to benefits was consistent with the policy objective of improving the financial sustainability of the compensation scheme. However, this was accompanied by changes in other markers of performance that were unintended, and are suggestive of adverse health consequences of the reform. This study demonstrates the need for care in reform of workers’ compensation scheme policy.

  • epidemiology
  • time series study
  • public health

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  • Twitter @axcollie, @DrTLane

  • Contributors AC and TJL conceived the study. TJL and DB conducted the analyses with input from AC and SEG. AC drafted the manuscript. All authors reviewed the data analysis, read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This project was funded by Safe Work Australia and Worksafe Victoria through a grant to the first author. The study also received funding from the Australian Research Council via a Discovery Project Grant to the first author (DP190102473).

  • Disclaimer This publication uses data supplied by Safe Work Australia and has been compiled in collaboration with state, territory and Commonwealth workers’ compensation regulators. The views expressed are the authors and are not necessarily the views of Safe Work Australia or the state, territory and Commonwealth workers’ compensation regulators.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study received ethics approval from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee on 14 October 2014.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study, and R analysis code, are available via figshare at