Who is Liable?
Skin injuries can range from cuts and lacerations to more serious injuries such as psoriasis. Many of these injuries are sustained as a result of an accident but it is often the case the skin condition will develop over time.
An important part of this process is determining liability for the injuries which have been sustained. This will depend on the circumstances in which your injuries were sustained. Skin injuries can be sustained in any environment but are more commonly associated with accidents at work. The most common way in which these injuries are sustained is through skin contact with a harmful substance or chemical. If it is the case that an injury has been sustained through work it is often the employer who is found liable for failing to ensure the health and safety of their employees throughout the course of their work. If these injuries are sustained in a public place it is likely that the owner or occupier of the premises will be seen as liable as they have a responsibility for the safety of visitors to the site. Once liability has been sustained you will be able to proceed to the next stage of the claims process.
Health and Safety in the Workplace
The health and safety of all employees should be a priority in the workplace. Employers have a responsibility for managing workplace activities which prioritises this. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 is the main legislation in Ireland which provides for this. The Act outlines certain duties that both an employer and employee have to ensure that health and safety regulations in the workplace are followed.
Types of Skin Injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
Also known as eczema, this injury is characterised by red and inflamed skin and rashes on certain parts of the body. Dermatitis can range in severity from mild and temporary injuries to more severe and longer lasting injuries. There are many different types of dermatitis with the most common being contact dermatitis. This is caused by direct contact of the skin with irritants and hazardous materials. These irritants often include cleaning products, oils, chemicals and solvents.
This is a very common skin condition which speeds up the life cycle of the skin cells. This condition causes cells to build up more quickly on the surface of the skin. As there are now extra skin cells, this causes them to form red patches. This injury can last for longer periods of time but may flare up at certain times.
Burns and Scalds
Burns and scalds would be the most common skin injury and can be caused by fire, steam, electrical equipment and chemicals. In order to prevent these injuries from being sustained in the workplace, protective equipment should be worn at all times.
In some industries, employees are expected to work in very cold environments such as cold storage centres and freezers. Cold injuries can include hypothermia and frostbite which can create skin injuries over time. This can also lead to skin discolouration.
Causes of Skin Injuries
Lack of Protective Equipment
A leading cause of many injuries in the workplace is a lack of personal protective equipment when engaging in dangerous practices at work. This equipment includes clothing, footwear, hats, glasses, gloves and facial protection. If this equipment is not worn the chances of an accident occurring will be higher. As contact dermatitis would be a common skin injury it is important that gloves and facial protection are worn to prevent the skin coming into contact with hazardous materials.
Working with Hot Equipment and Tools
A common cause of burns and scalds is working with hot tools and equipment. These injuries can be sustained in any environment and can also range in severity. Burn injuries can range from first degree to third degree burns based on the effect and damage which the injury has caused. These injuries can also be sustained from being in environments where there may be fires or steam. In order to prevent these accidents, it is important that adequate protection is worn at all times.
Using Harmful Substances and Materials
Irritants can cause an injury to the skin to be sustained as a result of direct contact or overexposure. A common item which these substances can be found in is household cleaning products. Overexposure to the chemicals used in these products can lead to both injuries and illnesses. Direct contact with the skin can lead to injuries such as dermatitis and psoriasis. It is important that these products are used in a safe manner so as to avoid both accidents and injuries.
Duties of an Employer
- Ensuring that the working environment is practical for the work that is to be carried out.
- Providing adequate training and Personal Protective Equipment to all employees.
- Ensuring there are regulations in place to help prevent workplace accidents.
Duties of an Employee
- Co-operating with their employer in relation to following regulations.
- Ensuring they attend all training that is provided to them by their employer.
- Reporting any problems or defects which they come across throughout the course of their work.
- Not acting in a negligent manner which may lead to an accident or injury.