Legal Guides

What Exactly is Duty of Care?

A duty of care is a legal responsibility imposed on an individual under tort law that requires them to follow a level of reasonable care when conducting any acts that could endanger others. The standard duty of care mandated by the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act of 2005 requires an employer to do everything 'reasonably possible' to protect your employees' mental and physical well-being.

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Employer’s Duty of Care

All employers have a responsibility to ensure that there are precautions and regulations in place to maintain a high level of safety and well-being for their employees. Employers are required to carry out frequent risk assessments which will help to identify and eliminate potential hazards and safety breaches.

The duties of an employer include:

  • Managing activities in a way that prioritises health and safety.
  • Providing the correct training and protective equipment to employees.
  • Ensuring that the working environment is suitable for the work that is to be carried out.
  • Ensuring that any equipment needed is in good working condition.

A breach of these duties by the employer can lead to accidents. If an employee has sustained an injury and it is found that it was caused by employer negligence, then the employer is likely to be found liable.

How does employer duty of care affect my work accident claim*?

You may be entitled to compensation if you suffer a personal injury at work. In addition to proving a duty of care, you must also show that your employer breached the obligation owed to you and that this breach resulted in your injury or illness.

Employee Concerns

An employee’s greatest fear is that if they file a lawsuit against their employer, they will lose their job. This is not the case, as job security legislation prevents employees from being dismissed if they file a claim (against their company) following a workplace injury case.

A workplace accident is not the same as a traffic accident involving strangers. A pre-existing employment relationship is always present, and it must be protected during the claims process.

Employer liability insurance whilst not a legal requirement is normally put in place by most smart employers. This practically means that their insurance company will take over and handle work-related claims once notified. This is beneficial to all parties involved and removes the ‘personal’ aspect of the procedure.