Employers have a duty to their employees to provide a safe place of work and a safe system of work.
At a minimum, employers must take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure equipment and machinery is well maintained and fit for purpose, that work areas are safe and free from dangers, that safe work systems are in place and that employees receive adequate and appropriate training to minimise the risk of injury. If an accident occurs in circumstances where an employer has failed in his duty to his employee, then the employer faces the prospect of being held liable for any injuries and consequential loss suffered as a result of the accident.
Common causes of workplace injuries include:
- Slipping or tripping on a hazardous floor surface
- Falling from a platform or ladder
- Manual handling and lifting accidents
- Co-worker negligence
- Forklift, delivery and other vehicle collisions
- Falling objects
- Unsafe and poorly maintained machinery
- Exposure to chemicals and dangerous materials
- Absence of appropriate safety clothing and equipment
- Absence of proper safety training
- Repetitive strain
What to Do
If you have had an accident at work always:
- Report the accident as soon as possible to the appropriate manager or supervisor.
- Make sure your employer notes and records the accident including the time, date and location.
- If your employer requests you to sign an accident report form make sure that you are happy with the contents and ask for a copy. If in doubt, seek legal advice before signing the report form.
- If you have been seriously injured, seek immediate medical attention.
- Never admit liability for any aspect of the accident and refrain from discussing the circumstances of the accident with colleagues.
- Take a note of the conditions which led to the accident, such as machinery or surface conditions, etc. Take photographs of the accident area if possible.
- Take the details of any witnesses to the accident.
- Consult your doctor for a medical assessment or attend the local hospital.
- Always seek legal advice to protect your interests.
Sick Pay/Loss of Earnings
There is no statutory right to sick pay if absent from work due to illness or injury. It is at the discretion of your employer. However your terms of employment must set out your employer’s policy on sick pay, even if it simply states that there is no sick pay scheme. If you are injured at work and there is no company sick pay scheme you should apply for Injury Benefit, if you have made sufficient insurance contributions. Illness Benefit is a weekly payment available under the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme.
The Scheme covers accidents at work, accidents while travelling to or from work, and disease and illnesses caused by work conditions. The benefits include Injury/Illness Benefit, Disability Benefit/Allowance, Incapacity Supplements, Constant Attendance Allowance, and the Medical Card Scheme. For further information contact your local social welfare office.
In addition, you may be in a position to pursue a loss of earnings claim, including a claim for future losses and lost opportunities. We can assist in the preparation of a loss of earnings claim and can arrange for accountants and/or actuaries to prepare expert reports on your behalf to ensure the full extent of the loss is calculated and added to your injuries claim.
Effect on Employment
Accidents at work are unfortunately still very common. In 2011, almost 7,000 accidents at work were reported to the Health & Safety Authority (HSA). It is no surprise then that employers are obliged to have in place adequate employers’ liability insurance (see below). However, injured employees are often concerned that a claim might negatively affect the employer-employee relationship or put their jobs in jeopardy. If you have suffered an injury in the course of your employment your employer must treat you fairly and allow you a reasonable opportunity to recover from your injuries and return to work.
If you are injured at work due to your employer’s negligence you are entitled to make a claim for damages. If for instance an employer terminates your employment because you wish to pursue a personal injuries claim, the employer runs the very real risk of facing both an unfair dismissal claim along with a personal injuries claim. If you have concerns about your employment situation following an accident at work please Contact Us for advice as soon as possible.
Employers Liability Insurance
Employers in Ireland are obliged to take out insurance cover for employee accidents and other risks. As a consequence, when a workplace accident occurs it is usually an insurance company and its legal team that deals with a claim and not the employer. We have considerable experience in handling work accident claims and are well adept at dealing with insurance companies defending claims on behalf of employers. We act solely for private clients and do not act for insurance companies allowing us to focus exclusively on achieving the best possible outcome for you.
If you have been injured or suffered illness during the course of your employment due to work conditions or an accident at work you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. If you wish to discuss a potential claim or would like advice on any matter, please Contact Us for a consultation.