Health and Safety Breach Claim *
Health and Safety regulations are one the most important set of rules which must be followed in all aspects of life. A breach of these regulations can lead to accidents and physical injuries which may leave people unable to carry on with their everyday lives.
Claims made for health and safety breaches * are very commonly associated with accidents in the workplace *. All employers have a duty of care to their employees. They must provide a safe working environment that is risk-free and follows all regulations that are in place. The duties of an employer are set out in the Safety, Health and Welfare at work act 2005. The Workplace relations commission also provide information on this which may be helpful if you think that there may be a breach of health and safety, even if an accident has not occurred. Employees are also expected to follow the code of practice that is in place for them. They must ensure that they are not acting in a negligent manner while at work as this can lead to injury.
Injuries Caused by Health and Safety Breaches
- Broken bones and fractures
- Skin diseases
- Diseases resulting from inhalation of dangerous chemicals
- Industrial Deafness and Tinnitus
- Respiratory diseases such as asthma
- Problem with the eye and/or vision
As part of the employer obligations, an employer must be aware of potential hazards that may lead to an accident. Some of these hazards are listed below:
- Slip, Trips and Falls due to wet floors obstructed pathways *
- Working with defective equipment
- Working with monitors (Visual Display Units – VDUs)
- Falls from heights
- Lack of training
- Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Exposure to high levels of noise
- Poor manual handling
- Failing to notify staff of emergency procedures
- Not carrying out frequent risk assessments
- Machinery and equipment which is not assembled correctly
- Exposure to moving parts of machinery
- Overexposure to hazardous chemicals
- Inadequate levels of lighting in the workplace
- Falling objects
- The environment is too hot or too cold
- The use of compressed air
- Faulty appliances not replaced
- Exposure to harmful vibrations
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
This is the main legislation in Ireland that looks after health and safety in the workplace. It outlines the duty of both an employer and employee when it comes to providing a safe working environment and how you cannot act negligently when carrying out your job.
- Managing activities in a way that prioritises the health and safety of their employees.
- Providing adequate training which is necessary to carry out the job correctly and in a safe manner.
- Putting safety measures in place which can help to prevent accidents *.
- Ensuring that the working environment is practical for the work that is to be carried out.
- Co-operate with their employer in relation to the following regulations.
- Attend any training that is supplied to them by their employer.
- Do not act in a negligent manner which may lead to accident and injury *.
- Report any problems or defects that they notice during the course of their work.
The Act explains the different areas and regulations of Health and Safety that must be followed and the different codes of practice that should be in place. Also mentioned in the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 is the different procedures which should be in place if there is a health and safety breach.
Health and Safety and Pregnant Employees
An employer is obligated to carry out risk assessments for pregnant employees. If the employee is working in an environment that can pose a risk to the pregnancy, these risks should be removed or the employee should be moved away from those risks. Another course of action would be for the employer to provide alternative work to the employee away from these risks. In cases where all options are not possible then the pregnant employee must be given health and safety leave from work. This kind of leave may run until the beginning of maternity leave. This leave may also be extended to after maternity leave in cases where an employee has recently given birth or is breastfeeding and their work environment poses a risk to them (if the risk cannot be removed before they return to work).
For the duration of health and safety leave, the employee is treated as being in employment and therefore accumulated annual leave. The employee must pay full normal wages for the first 21 days of the health and safety leave, beyond this point the employee can apply for health and safety benefit from social welfare.
Other Protective measures
An employer has an obligation to inform and protect employees from risks in the following areas:
- Visual Display Units (VDUs) – an employer must be aware of VDUs used in their place of work and pay particular attention to glare and reflection, the position of the VDU in relation to its operator, software and equipment used (Mouse, keyboard, other computer-related equipment). It is also noted in legislation that the employer must also arrange for eye tests for those affected by the VDUs they operate on a daily basis and if needed make a contribution towards prescription eyeglasses. It is important that the employer allows for adequate breaks from the monitors they use also.
- Wearing of protective equipment – the employer must inform the employees of any risks where an employee must wear protective gear. For example, footwear, eyewear, headgear, protective clothing. In conjunction with this, the employee must follow these guidelines and ensure to wear the protective gear when carrying our specific tasks. These must be provided to the employee free of charge and the employee must only use them for work purposes.
- Training – the employer must show the employees how to use the protective gear and the employee must adhere to the proper use of this gear.
Reporting an accident *
Following a workplace accident * the employee should first report the accident to their employer. The employee is then obliged to record the details of the accident. You may also ask for a copy of this report as it may be useful when making a claim. In cases where an employee is out of work for 3 or more consecutive days as a result of an accident (not including the day of the incident), the employer is also obliged to report the accident to the Health and Safety Authority.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work act 2005, an employer is forbidden from victimising an employee if they do decide to exercise their rights and report an accident or proceed with an injury claim *. They cannot penalise them, take disciplinary action against them, fire them or treat them any less favourably than other employees.
Workplace Relations Commission (WRC)
The WRC gives us information in relation to industrial relations and the rights that you have as an employer. If an employer has been notified of a health and safety breach but has failed to fix the problem, an employee may decide to get in touch with the workplace relations commission to find information on what they can do in this situation and the different routes they can take. If an accident has occurred as a result of this breach then it would be advised to contact a solicitor first if you are thinking about making a claim.
Making a Claim
Report the Breach and Accident
If you have noticed that there is some form of a health and safety breach in your place of work it is very important that you notify your manager of this so that they can fix the issue as soon as possible. If a breach of regulations has led to an accident it is also very important that you inform your employer of this. They will need to be made aware of the injuries sustained and will need to be given details of any witnesses that were present. This will need to be recorded in their accident report book.
The most important thing following an accident is the well-being of those involved. Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible so as to ensure that injuries are treated correctly. This also makes sure that injuries do not progress into anything more serious over time. If you are making a claim for personal injuries * you will need to obtain a copy of your medical report. This is to prove that your injuries were caused as a direct result of the health and safety breach.
Speak to a Solicitor
It would be advised that you speak to a personal injury solicitor * if you have decided that you want to make a health and safety breach claim *. They will be able to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have about your claim.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
To talk in more detail about any aspect of this topic, you can contact our injury claim solicitors * on 01 649 9900 or email email@example.com to tell us about your health and safety breach claim *.
With over 30 years’ experience, Tracey solicitors ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon and can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart, in a language that you can understand