What To Do If You Have An Accident At Work?
An accident or injury at work * is an unfortunate event. It is one that can have serious effects on a person’s mental, physical and financial state. An accident at work * can also be referred to as a workplace accident, occupational accident, or injury at work *. It can be described as an occurrence in the course of work that leads to a physical or mental injury *. In a lot of cases, the employee who suffered the injury may be entitled to pursue legal action. This is if they can prove that the accident as a result of an unsafe working environment.
Common Types Claims *
Accidents at work can occur in a number of different environments; in the office, on a building site, on a farm or on any premises that an employee is legally required to be during the course of their working day. Regardless of the type of injury at work *, it is important to maintain whether the environment was unfit or hazardous, even in the case of human error, ascertaining the details of how the accident occurred is very important for an accident at work * claim. Therefore, the type of work that an employee is hired to do may have an impact what kind of injury an employee sustains.
The most common accidents at work claims are:
- Slip, Trip or Falls *
- Farm Accidents *
- Manual handling –which includes lifting and carrying, pushing and pulling, and twisting and turning of the body.
- Occupational Injuries
- Falling from Heights – from stairs, ladders or scaffolding, for example
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
- Electrical Incidents
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Excessive noise
- Hazardous working environments
- Falling Objects
- Vehicle Accidents *
- Building Site Accidents *
- Forklift Accidents *
- Industrial Diseases
- Asbestos Exposure
- Industrial deafness
- Back Injury at work *
Making a Claim *
Before you consider legal proceedings and making an accident at work claim *, your first priority should be to seek medical attention. In minor workplace incidents whereby you have a slip, trip or fall, you may feel as though you are fine, but what you don’t realise is that the minor injury you have suffered could develop into a bigger health issue for you. Assessing your health after an accident is a critical first step.
Once you have had a medical assessment there are a number of steps you will follow:
1. Report the accident * to your superior
It is important that you notify your manager at work as to the accident that occurred. You need to you inform them of the injuries you suffered and the cause of the accident. It is advisable for you to seek confirmation from your superior that you have reported the accident, whether it is written or electronic.
2. Seek legal advice from a personal injury solicitor *
Once you have reported the accident, it is important that you seek advice from a personal injury solicitor * who has experience with accidents in the workplace. They can then talk you through the next steps as to what is involved.
In the event that you do decide to take a personal injury * claim, you are not obliged to personally tell your employer. Your solicitor can write to your employer and notify them of the claim. Some of our clients have told us that they feel that it would be better for them to inform their employer that a claim was being made and that their solicitor would be in touch. This is a matter for each client. Generally, we would advise that all communications regarding the case take place between the legal representatives.
If you cannot return to work after suffering an injury at work there are legal remedies that can help you recover any financial and non-financial losses you may have incurred, these losses are referred to as damages:
Non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional damage following an accident at work
Out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident at work. For example, loss of earnings, medical bills, travel costs relating to the injury at work.
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
Every employer is obligated to ensure that their employees work in a safe environment. An employee is obligated to carry out their duties to a standard code of practice. These responsibilities for both the employee and employer are governed by The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Read more about employer responsibilities here.
Statute of Limitations – Legal Time Frames
After suffering a personal injury at work *, it is important to remember that there is a certain timeframe in place within which you can bring a claim*. Furthermore, read more about legal time limits and your personal injury claim * here
Sick Pay Entitlements
Employers are not obliged by Irish Law to pay their employees sick pay if they are out of work due to an injury. However, it is advisable to check your contract of employment as it may contain a clause relating to sick pay when out of work.
The Injuries Board
Accident at work * claims must be passed through the Injuries Board for assessment before proceeding to settlement or to court.
Accidents in the workplace * can be completely avoidable inconveniences, in most cases. There are obligations on every employer in Ireland (Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005), whether they are a large construction company or small newsagents, to ensure that an employee’s health and welfare at work is as far as possible, reasonably protected in order to avoid a workplace accident and personal injury*. Equally, the employee who is expected to act responsibly within the workplace and avoid intentionally putting themselves at risk of an injury. Therefore, there has to be a willing understanding between both parties to minimise work hazards.
Avoiding workplace accidents
Depending on the role the employee works in, they can check the following items to ensure that the employer had complied with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and provide the safest workplace possible.
An employer must:
- maintain a safe workplace, machinery and equipment
- use appropriate measures to prevent risks that may come from the use of any article or substance and prevent risks from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
- prevent any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk
- ensure that employees are constantly up to date with all health and safety measures needed for their role. An example of this would be manual handling courses
- provide protective clothing and equipment to employees (at no cost to employees)
- appoint a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer
- carry out a risk assessment for the workplace which should identify potential hazards that could lead to a workplace accident
In conclusion, employers have a legal duty to ensure safe operations are in place to protect their employees
Where an accident at work occurs an employer must report the accident to the Health and Safety Authority. Employers are legally obliged to report the accident if the worker cannot perform their duties for three consecutive days. Furthermore, it is worth noting that in this three-day count, the day of the accident is excluded.
Often a worry for an employee is that they will lose their job if they bring a claim forward against their employer. This is not the case as job security legislation protects employees against dismissal if a claim is brought forward after an injury in the workplace.
Most prudent employers have employer liability insurance in place. This effectively means that their insurance company take over and look after the claim from an early stage. This can be good for all involved and takes the ‘personal’ element out of the process.
Don’t worry about being mistreated by the employer for making a workplace accident claim. These worries are normal. An accident at work is not the same as a road traffic accident between strangers. There is always a pre-existing employment relationship and this must be protected during the claims process.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
If you have any questions about an injury you suffered due to an accident at work * please do feel free to contact us for a confidential chat with one of our personal injury solicitors *. You can reach us by phone on +353 1 649 9900 or email email@example.com. If you rather we call you please do feel free to tell us about your case by leaving your details along with a message outlining your query on the form below and we can call you back.
With 30 years’ experience as specialist personal injury solicitors *, 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.