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ACCIDENT AT WORK – WORK INJURY

People spend a huge portion of their life working; around 10 years of their lifetime according to some statisticians. In the last 60 years society has seen huge improvements in safety and awareness at the workplace and in Ireland employers adhere to the Irish and European Health & Safety regulations.

The duties of employers towards their employees in relation to accidents in the workplace have been extended by legislation and are contained in The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and also The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. Section 8 of the Act provides that the employer has a duty to ensure the employees’ safety, health and welfare at work (as far as is reasonably practicable).

Employers responsibilities to workers have evolved over the years in the civil courts, and the employer’s duty of care to each of his employees can be reduced to five headings.

Put simply, the employer must provide:

1) Safe systems of work,

2) A safe place of work,

3) Plant and machinery that is safe to use,

4) Competent supervision and/or suitable training and,

5) Care in the selection of fellow employees.

All claims involving accidents in the workplace (employer liability cases) must be submitted to Injuriesboard.ie before starting legal proceedings.

According to statistics made available by the Injuries Board during 2013, awards in the ‘Employer’s Liability’ category were highest at €28,886 reflecting the often more serious and complex nature of the injuries sustained in such accidents. Roughly 8% of the claims they received related to employers liability.

Employers must ensure the minimum health and safety standards in order to prevent (as much as possible) their employees being injured due to an accident at work.

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, employers have a duty to ensure their employees’safety, health and welfare at work as far as is reasonably practicable.

In order to prevent workplace injuries and ill health you are required, among other things, to:

  • Provide and maintain a safe workplace, machinery and equipment
  • Prevent risks from use of any article or substance and from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
  • Prevent any improper conduct or behavior likely to put the safety,health and welfare of employees at risk (“horseplay” and bullying at work come within these categories)
  • Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety
  • Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees (at no cost to employees)
  • Appoint a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer

COMPENSATION CLAIMS FOR WORK INJURIES OR ACCIDENTS AT WORK

Compensation can be claimed for includes ‘pain and suffering’ for both the initial injury and for ongoing disability, together with compensation for any impediment or disadvantage, caused by your work injury or accident at work, which may prevent you obtaining further employment due to a permanent injury. In addition actual financial losses caused as a result of an accident at work can also be claimed including;

  • loss of earnings
  • prescription charges and medical fees
  • travelling expenses
  • cost of care and assistance
  • adapted accommodation
  • costs of assistance for household chores
  • other losses

HOW DO I MAKE A CLAIM AGAINST MY EMPLOYER FOR A WORK INJURY OR ACCIDENT AT WORK?

Many employees feel reluctant to make a compensation claim against their employer as they may feel that they will be subject to victimisation or their employment will be terminated.  However, your employer has a duty of care to all employees to ensure that your workplace and any machinery or equipment that you use during your employment are safe, and that you have had adequate training.  Therefore, if you have had an accident at work which was not your fault and you have sustained injury and/or pain and suffering, you are entitled to compensation.  This applies if your injury or accident was caused by one of your co-workers during work.

If you have been the victim of a work related injury or accident, contact us on FREEphone 1800 844104 or email us on info@colemanlegalpartners.ie.

IS MY EMPLOYER COVERED BY INSURANCE?

All employers, by law, must have Employer’s Liability Insurance cover in place to protect employees in the case of accident or injury in the workplace.

Industrial injuries at work are common and your employer will have insurance to cover work accident compensation claims from employers who have been injured at work.

WHAT IS EMPLOYERS LIABILITY INSURANCE?

Employers Liability Insurance provides cover in case an employee is injured or killed at work or develops an illness associated from their job. For instance, if an employee is injured in your warehouse and your business is found to be negligent, Employers Liability would protect your business. The standard level of cover is €13 million, again this figure can be increased if required.

The definition of an employee within insurance typically covers any individual that is hired under a contract or apprenticeship scheme once this work falls within the business description.

WORK INJURY EXAMPLES

To assist with your understanding of a typical employer’s liability case example, we have taken two straight forward case studies from the Injury Board and display them below for reference and comparison:

  1. Richard was working as the manager of a warehouse when a colleague driving a forklift inadvertently drove over his foot, causing a significant foot injury. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a high visibility jacket but did not have any safety boots on as there were none made available to him by his employer: Richard’s injury required a skin graft and he was hospitalised for a significant period of time. Since the accident, Richard is unable to run or participate in sports. Richard was awarded €116,000 in damages.
  2. Graham, an electrician, was working on a building site when he was struck by falling debris and was knocked to the ground: Graham suffered significant soft tissue injuries to his neck, shoulder and back, and was unable to work for three months. He also required physiotherapy. He has since returned to work. Graham was awarded €25,000 in General Damages and reimbursement for loss of earnings.

WHAT TO DO FIRST IF YOU SUFFER A WORK INJURY OR ACCIDENT AT WORK

  • See a doctor: or go to the hospital if necessary depending on the severity of the injury
  • Report the accident to a superior: inform those in charge of the nature of incident as soon as possible.
  • Seek legal advice: Once you have seen a doctor and reported the injury to a superior in work  a solicitor will be able to determine if your employer is likely to be found liable.

FOR EMPLOYERS

Employers should visit the website https://besmart.ie/. BeSMART.ie (Business electronic Safety Management and Risk assessment Tool) will help small business owners/managers to prepare risk assessments and a safety statement for their workplace. It is easy to use and it will reduce the chances of an accident in the workplace and save you both time and money. Over 16,000 businesses are currently registered with the free service.

EMPLOYERS’ DUTIES

Employers (including self-employed persons) are primarily responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. An employer’s duties include:

■ Managing and conducting all work activities so as to ensure the safety, health and welfare of people at work (including the prevention of improper conduct or behaviour likely to put employees at risk*).

■ Designing, providing and maintaining a safe place of work that has safe access and egress, and uses plant and equipment that is safe and without risk to health.

■ Prevention of risks from the use of any article or substance, or from exposure to physical agents, noise, vibration and ionising or other radiations. * “Horseplay” and bullying at work would come within these categories.

■ Planning, organising, performing, maintaining and, where appropriate, revising systems of work that are safe and without risk to health.

■ Providing and maintaining welfare facilities for employees at the workplace.

■ Providing information, instruction, training and supervision regarding safety and health to employees, which must be in a form, manner, and language that they are likely to understand.

■ Cooperating with other employers who share the workplace so as to ensure that safety and health measures apply to all employees (including fixed-term and temporary workers) and providing employees with all relevant safety and health information.

■ Providing appropriate protective equipment and clothing to the employees (and at no cost to the employees).

■ Appointing one or more competent persons to specifically advise the employer on compliance with the safety and health laws.

■ Preventing risks to other people at the place of work.

■ Ensuring that reportable accidents and dangerous occurrences are reported to the Health and Safety Authority.

CONTACT OUR PERSONAL INJURY TEAM TODAY

If you have experienced an accident or accidents in the workplace and you have questions surrounding the incident please feel free to call any one of our personal injury solicitors at Coleman Legal Partners to find out if you have a potential action against your employer.

If you have suffered as the result of an accident at work and would like to discuss your situation in confidence, please contact Rose Sweeney or Keith Rolls by email or FREEphone us on 1800-844104 to see how we can help you.


*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.

USEFUL LINKS

http://www.pointofsinglecontact.ie/download/short_guide_to_shwwa_2005.pdf

Citizens Information

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