Accident at Work*

Pallet Accident Claims*

Pallets are used to assemble, store transport and handle goods. They are used in a number of industries and are a common cause of accidents in the workplace.

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Who is Liable?

Due to the weight of the pallets and items that may be stacked on them, accidents can be quite dangerous and serious. There are a number of injuries that can be sustained as a result of an accident involving a pallet*. If you have been involved in an accident in the workplace* you may be entitled to make a claim for damages. In order to do this, you will need to determine who is liable for the cause of the accident.

All employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of staff at all times. Pallet accidents* commonly occur in factories, warehouse environments and stockrooms where they would be used on a daily basis. It is up to the employer to provide a safe working environment for their employees in order to ensure that there is no risk of accidents or injuries*. If there are health and safety regulations in place the then accidents at work* could be avoided. Employees also have a responsibility to ensure that they do not act in a negligent manner which could put the health and safety of their co-workers at risk. Saying this, it is ultimately up to the employer to ensure that all staff have received the correct training and are aware of the potential risks associated with the work to be carried out.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005

This is the main legislation in Ireland which looks after health and safety in the workplace. The Act outlines the duties of both the employer and employee when it comes to prioritising the wellbeing of staff while carrying out their work and ensuring that they do not act in a negligent manner throughout the course of their work.

Employer Duties

  • Manage activities in a way which prioritises the health and safety of employees.
  • Put safety measures in place to help prevent accidents and injuries*.
  • Provide adequate training and personal protective equipment that is necessary to carry out the job in a safe manner.
  • Ensure that the working environment is practical for the work that is to be carried out.

Employee Duties

  • Co-operate with their employer in relation to following regulations and procedures.
  • Attend any training that is provided to them.
  • Report any problems or defects that they come across during the course of their work.
  • Do not act in a negligent manner as this may lead to an accident or injury.

Powered Pallet Trucks (PPT)

One type of machinery that is used in a warehouse is a powered pallet truck and is used for transporting pallets from one location to another. It should only be used by a trained employee as an unsupervised, inexperienced person may cause an accident or injury to themselves or others surrounding them.

Training should provide the operator with knowledge of:

  • Pre-shift inspections
  • Load capacity
  • Handle positions – raise and lower loads
  • Be familiar with their surroundings, know of any possible obstacles they may need to maneuver around

Accidents occur because an employer allows a person to operate this tool without proper training, an obstacle has been left in the person’s pathway or wet floors cause them to slip and lose the load they were carrying.

Pallet Jack

A pallet jack is similar in ways to a pallet truck, the difference being that it is not motorised and a person must manually push and pull this tool to move pallets around a warehouse.

Common Injuries

Other injuries include:

  • Strain or dislocation of the shoulder from moving the pallets
  • Repetitive strain injuries from pulling and pushing pallets
  • Trips from exposed forks of pallet trucks

Causes

Lack of Training

Inadequate training is a common cause of many workplace accidents*. It is important that all employees are correctly trained on how to carry out their job as this will help to reduce the risk of accidents occurring. Employees should know how to use pallet trucks and how items should be stacked on them to reduce the risk of an accident. All employees should ensure that they attend all training provided to them by their employer as they may be found liable if it is found that they acted negligently and did not attend training.

Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Protective equipment is necessary for all employees in certain industries, such as factories and warehouses. The employer must provide adequate PPE to their employees where needed. Wearing the correct equipment can greatly reduce the chances of an accident occurring. This equipment includes gloves, footwear, hats and facial protection such as masks and glasses.

Negligent Behaviour

If an employer is acting negligently during the course of their work it is likely that an accident will occur. If the movement of pallets is not carried out for the intended purpose the chances of an accident occurring will be higher. If you have sustained injuries at work you may be found liable if it is found that you were acting in a negligent manner in the lead up to the accident. Actions that employees need to be careful about are:

  • Only push pallet jacks – pulling can cause serious strain on shoulders
  • Start the pallet jack slowly – sudden jerks could cause the load to fall
  • Never stand on a pallet truck or pallet jack
  • Never stand on the edges of a pallet
  • Never leave a pallet jack or truck with the load elevated
  • Move slowly, watch your heels!
  • Keep the jack or truck in front of you when moving down a ramp

Faulty Pallets

It is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that all equipment used in the workplace is maintained to a high standard to ensure the health and safety of employees who may be using the work equipment. Poorly maintained or broken pallets could become a potential hazard for those in the working environment.

Incorrectly Stacking Pallets

Items which are incorrectly stacked on pallets could cause them to fall and cause injury to workers. Unsafe stacking could also lead to pallets breaking making them unsafe to use and transport. It is important that all employees are trained on how to correctly stack pallets to avoid the risk of falling items. Unsafe stacking could also cause problems during transportation as items may fall and break. If pallets are being transported to another location this could cause injury to those who are receiving the items and pallets.

Faulty Pallet Trucks/Pallet Jacks

Accidents can be caused in cases where the pallet trucks used are damaged or worn. Maintenance is very important in keeping the operators of the pallet trucks safe. Other causes of faulty trucks are:

  • Faulty wheels – flat spots on wheels causing harder rotation
  • Failing hydraulics
  • Inadequate signage of load capacity on truck

What to do after an accident at work*?

Following an accident at work*, there are a number of steps you should follow:

  1. Seek medical attention

    Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after an accident at work*, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries and seek the relevant medical attention. If you have sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.

    For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.

  2. Report the accident

    It is critical to report the accident to your superior, i.e. a supervisor or manager on site. It doesn’t matter how small you think the accident may be. By law, accidents at work* are required to be reported if the person is injured and can’t perform their daily work tasks for more than three days. Make sure to fill out an Accident Report Form. This can be used in reference to any medical examination and will also prevent any similar accidents that could happen in the future.

  3. Identify any witnesses

    If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed the accident. This may be of use if you do decide to pursue a workplace accident claim*. It is also useful to find out if there is any CCTV in the area where the accident happened.

  4. Document the incident

    It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:

    •  How the accident happened
    •  Details of any witnesses
    •  If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident
    • Take pictures of where the accident happened and what caused the accident
  5. Speak to a workplace accident solicitor*

    If you are considering moving forward with a workplace accident claim* for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with a workplace accident claims solicitor* as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A workplace accident solicitor* can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.

    It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.

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How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist workplace accident* solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Prepare information for a solicitor

    When you decide you want to move forward with your workplace accident claim* it is important to have all the relevant information to hand when contacting a solicitor. Important information to have on hand at this point is:

    • Date of the accident
    • Location of the accident
    • Details of who/what caused the accident
    • Specifics of what happened
    • Who did you report the accident to?
    • Is there CCTV that may have captured the accident?
    • Details of your injuries
    • Details of hospital or GP attended
    • Any pictures you may have taken of the scene of the accident and/or your injuries
  2. Solicitor becomes your trusted advisor

    As a solicitor is aware of the workplace accident claim* process they can avoid any legal bumps in the road you might encounter if you did this yourself. It is their job to be your trusted advisor on all legal matters throughout your case.

  3. Solicitor obtains a medical report

    One of the most important document in your case is a medical report. Your solicitor will ask for your doctor’s or Hospital details so he can obtain a report on your injuries. This report will then be used to allow us progress your case.

  4. Solicitor prepares the Injuries Board application

    As soon as your solicitor has gathered all the information, your workplace accident claim* will be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment. You solicitor will do this for you. Once the Injuries Board assess your claim your solicitor will revert with a suggested settlement amount. At this stage you have a choice to accept the Injuries Board assessment or reject it and move the next steps.

    At this point one of two scenarios will unfold:

    a. If both you and your employer accept the Injuries Board assessment, your case is settled and the person at fault will be ordered to pay settlement to you.

    b. If either you or your employer reject the Injuries Board assessment, then you move to the next stage and your solicitor will issue legal proceedings.

  5. Possible case outcomes

    Before you start to concern yourself with court and everything that comes with it, it’s important to understand that only a very small percentage of cases actually make it to a courtroom.

    Settlement meetings will be arranged where a settlement can be negotiated. Most cases are settled at this point without ever having to step foot into a courtroom and remember it’s your solicitor’s job to be with you every step of the way, right beside you to ensure that your best interests are met at all stages. Your solicitor is to be your trusted advisor throughout the process and to let you focus of your recovery, as they focus on settling your case.

At Tracey’s we make law accessible to all — regardless of your knowledge or experience with the claims process. For more information and a confidential discussion on your workplace accident, phone 01 649 9900 where you can speak with a member of our team straight away, or email ask@traceysolicitors.ie to tell us about your case.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a workplace accident claim* you may be entitled to claim compensation for the accident and added expenses you may have incurred. These claims are called damages.

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a workplace accident*.

Special Damages

Special damages are out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the workplace accident*, for example, loss of earnings (if you are out of work), medical bills, and added travel costs as a result of the accident (for example, travel to and from the hospital). Learn more about Special Damages

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim — these vary depending on the situation. The general rule for most personal injury cases* is that the person has two years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the accident* to make a claim for compensation. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Learn more about Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors

We draw on more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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