For a train driver, the most traumatic event that can happen is a fatality. This is something that will happen to a Melbourne train driver almost once in every eight years.
The article published in the Age: The Train Drivers Torment describes the long lasting effects that a fatality can have on a train driver.
“It just never goes away, it’s always there. You think you switch off to it, but there’s always things that bring you back to it.”
The second most traumatic thing that can happen to a train drivers is what is termed (by Metro and other railway companies) as a ‘Near Miss’. This is a term that train driver’s want to be re-named to ‘Traumatic Event’. A ‘Near Miss’ is defined by Metro as a situation where the train would collide with a person or object had the driver not blown an emergency whistle or put on the emergency brake. It does not include the trauma associated with a teenager pretending to throw themselves in front of a train as the train comes into the station (Something that could be extremely traumatic for a driver who has just returned to work after a fatality that occurred in a similar manner). Sometimes the trauma involved in a near miss can be more traumatic to a driver than a fatality. Stress and trauma compound, and the psychological effects of a near miss can often be crippling to a train driver.
- Train Driver stops work after unauthorised person on track near toorak
- Retired Train Driver on near miss nightmares
- Train Driver traumatised after Frankston line near miss
- Train Driver trauma over near misses
The instances of near-misses can be fifty times more often than fatalities.
When a train driver experiences a near miss and doesn’t feel that they are able to continue driving the train, they have the right to demand relief and then go off injured from work.
The trouble that has now arisen is with Metro Trains Melbourne’s new Injury Policy. MTM have decided that injured employees (for any injury) are no longer allowed to attend their own family g.p, but must instead be “escorted” by a manager to a company doctor, whether the employee wants them to or not.
Drivers who choose to instead attend their own doctor are then “stood down” pending an “investigation”
Surely Metro Trains Melbourne can see that this only adds to the stress and trauma involved in what is already a very traumatic episode for a train driver? No, Metro Trains Melbourne choose to interpret their actions as a requirement under “duty of care”. They happily ignore that a duty of care can be discharged by the person being cared for. Patients in hospitals can discharge themselves against the advice of their treating doctor, but Metro Trains Melbourne believe that they can force and coerce their drivers into medical treatment in their own time.
It is an attack on an individuals right to choose their own treating doctor.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently issued a report regarding employers attending doctors visits HR Gurus sums it up with “… the situation is pretty clear cut. Unless an employee explicitly requests your attendance, private medical appointments are off limits.”
QBE provides the following on their FAQ page:
Q. Can an injured worker choose their own doctor for treatment of a work-related injury?
A. Yes. However, an employer may have appointed a company doctor or medical centre that is familiar with their workplace to look after any of their employees should they sustain an injury. An injured worker may choose to be treated by a company doctor, either initially or on an ongoing basis, or they may choose to see their own doctor initially or on an ongoing basis.
“An Injured worker may choose to see their own doctor initially”
Q. Can an employer or their insurer require an injured worker to attend a doctor of their choice?
A. Yes. When a claim for compensation is made by an injured worker, an employer or their insurer may require the injured worker to be reviewed by a doctor chosen by the employer or insurer, but not more frequently than every 14 days. The purpose of such medical reviews is not to administer treatment, but rather to provide medical opinion and information to assist the return-to-work process. Medical treatment can only be administered with the consent of the injured worker by their nominated treating doctor.
“Medical treatment can only be administered with the consent of the injured worker by their nominated treating doctor.”
In September last year, The Age published an article: Injured Metro Train Drivers being intimidated it detailed how “The new rules have been so fiercely enforced that a female train driver recently locked herself in a toilet cubicle to phone for help after she was allegedly approached by two Metro officers while at her personal doctor’s clinic in Frankston.”
This train driver had been injured at work. She had reported the injury and then gone off work as ‘injured’. In her OWN time she immediately attended her choice of medical practitioner. It is alleged that two male Metro Managers then arrived at her doctors clinic and attempted to force (through bullying and intimidation) her into a taxi to take her to their own doctor. If this train driver had notified her work that she was injured, should this not be classed as attempted kidnapping?
Metro’s spokeswoman Larisa Tait said “These practitioners are familiar with the role and health requirements of a driver, as well as common injuries sustained on the job,” However she declined to go into detail how a medical practitioner who has just been appointed is familiar with the health requirements of a driver or the common injuries sustained on the job.
That train driver then faced disciplinary action over her refusal to be intimidated. Did the manager’s who did the bullying and intimidation face disciplinary action?
Rowan Kerenbone of Injured Workers Support Network N.S.W said “That a company would take drastic steps to ensnare their employees to see the company doctor is disgraceful and debases the company’s commitment to the safety and welfare of their employees. Metro should be widely condemned for this practice and the Victorian Government should take immediate steps to change the Workplace safety legislation to ensure a workers rights to see their own treating doctor. ”
The question needs to be asked:
Why is Metro Trains Melbourne allowed to continue to attack an individual’s right to see their own treating practitioner after an injury?
For help or information visit beyond blue.org.au, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251, or Lifeline on 131 114.