According the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, accidents at work* represent about 10% of all personal injuries claims* made each year in Ireland. As ‘work’ covers a wide arrange of industries, the injuries and accidents* that can happen at work vary greatly, from broken bones, back injuries from excess lifting, repetitive strain injuries and even psychological injuries associated with bullying or even assaults at work.
At Hanahoe and Hanahoe solicitors we have a wide range of experience of dealing with all manners of accident at work compensation claims*. With over 40 years’ experience dealing with personal injuries claims* from our Dublin and Naas offices, our award-winning firm is well placed to advise you, if you have been involved in an accident or were injured at work.
Employers duty of care to their employees
All employers have a duty of care to their employees to provide a safe system and place of work and to do everything reasonable in their power to prevent accidents at work*. This includes providing their employees with suitable training on a regular basis.
If you are involved in an accident at work* as a result of your employer’s failure to provide you with a safe system or place of work or adequate training, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim and you should speak to an accident claims solicitor*.
Work accidents* should always be reported to your employer or supervisor at the earliest possible opportunity. As with any accident, the first thing you should do is visit your doctor, regardless of whether you believe your injuries are serious or not.
Once you have seen your doctor and if you wish to seek advice as to whether you have an accident claim*, you should contact a good personal injuries lawyer*.
We would strongly advise against talking to your employers or their insurers about your work compensation claim*, before you have taken legal advice from a good personal injuries’ solicitor*.
What should I do if I have been in an accident at work*
Being involved accident at work*, especially one where you have sustained personal injuries* can be very stressful. If the accident happened at work it can be very difficult to know what to do, particularly if you are worried about the implications it may have on your employment. If you have been involved such an accident you should do the following:
Seek medical attention. If you have been in any sort of accident, seeking medical attention is imperative to ensure your injuries are not serious.
Report the accident to your employer or supervisor. If you are in a serious accident, where an ambulance is required this obviously will not be necessary. Otherwise you should immediately inform your employer that you have been involved in an accident at work*.
It is likely that you will be asked to fill out accident at work* incident report form. This should be done, but we would recommend that you fill out the incident report form yourself as opposed to signing one filled out by your employer. If you are not happy with the contents of the accident at work* incident report form, do not sign it.
You should take a note of any witnesses to the accident and where possible obtain their contact details. If you wish to bring a personal injuries claim*, your solicitor will want to take a statement from all witnesses to the accident at the earliest possible opportunity.
- You should try to ascertain whether the area where your work accident* occurred is covered by CCTV Footage. If so you should seek a copy of same.
- Take photographs of the location of the accident.
- You should make a GDPR request seeking a copy of your personnel file.
- If you wish to bring a personal injuries claim*, you should take advice from a personal injuries’ solicitor*.
Do I have to attend my Employers Doctor in relation to my accident at work*.
If you have been involved in an accident at work*, you employers have the right to have you medically assessed to determine if and/or when you will be in a position to return to work. It is important that you attend such medical appointments. However, you are entitled to and should obtain copies of all attendance notes, records and reports arising from said appointment.
However, it is essential that the purpose of this appointment is to establish if and when you are fit to return to work only. The notes and reports arising out of these appointments should not be share with your employers insures or solicitors and should not be used in the defense of any personal injury litigation*. It is essential that before attending such an appointment that your accident claim solicitor*, write to your employer, setting out the terms under which you are willing to attend their medical appointments.
Can I be fired for making a personal injuries claim* arising out of an accident at work*?
You cannot be fired for making a personal injuries claim* arising out of an accident at work*. Section 6 (c) of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 precludes employers from dismissing employees who take an accident claim* or indeed any claim against them. As the section states an employee will be unfairly dismissed if they are fired for “civil proceedings whether actual, threatened or proposed against the employer to which the employee is or will be a party to or in which the employee was or is likely to be a witness.” Therefore if you were dismissed for bringing a accident at work compensation claim* you will be able to bring a separate claim against your employer for unfair dismissal. The Legislative remedies for a successfully unfair dismissal claim are:
reinstatement, meaning that you would be treated as if you had never been dismissed and that you would be entitled to recover your loss of earnings from the date of your dismissal to the date of your return to work; or
compensation of up to a maximum of the equivalent of two years’ pay.
Even more concerning for the employer, is that you could potentially bring an injunction preventing your dismissal.
Employers Obligations Under Statute
Employers have both a common-law and statutory obligation to provide their employees with both a safe system and place of work. This obligation was further enshrined in legislation in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. This act obliges employers to do everything that is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety, welfare and health of their employees.
If an employee is injured in an accident at work*, because their employer has failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure their safety, they are entitled to bring a personal injuries claim* to seek compensation for their injuries. The employer cannot fire the employee because the employer has failed to meet their common-law and statutory obligations.
An Unlikely Occurrence
Given the strong protections workers are given under Irish employment legislation it is nearly unheard of for an employee to be fired for bringing a personal injures claim*. In the last 15 years it has only happened once to client of our office and in that case the employers had to pay compensation for the unfair dismissal and separately for our client’s accident at work claim*.
Excessive Lifting at Work Claims*
At Hanahoe and Hanahoe both our Dublin and Naas personal injury solicitors* have successfully represented a huge number of workers who have suffered serious injuries due to the excessive and unreasonable lifting they are required to do at work. Often our clients are put under serious time pressure and given unrealistic targets ensuring that they are unable to do their required lifting in a safe way. Such conditions can lead to employees suffering significant injuries to their back. These injuries can be the result of either a once off accident at work* or where the employee suffers a repetitive strain type injury, due to the continual nature of the lifting they are required to do. Employees who have been injured in such away and want to bring a personal injuries claim*, so speak to an accident claim solicitor*.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare Act, 2005, employers have an obligation to provide their employees with a safe system of work and appropriate instruction, training and supervision, to avoid work accidents and ensure that their employees can carry out their work safely. While most employers do provide their employees with training, they often do so simply as a box ticking exercise or else insist on their employees hitting such unreasonable targets, that it is in possible for them to follow the training they received.
In many cases the training the employees receive is completely inadequate and bears no relation to the tasks the employees are required to carry out at work. Under Section 10 of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act, 2005 an employer is obliged to provide training and instructions ‘relating to the specific task to be performed by the employee’. Being simply shown how to lift a cardboard box is not appropriate training, if you are required to lift significant weights of various sizes and descriptions on the factory floor. It is also important that training is conducted in a language that the employees understand and that the employees are allowed and encouraged to ask questions about any area they do not understand.
Pick Rates at Work
Many employees, particularly those working factories are given ‘pick rates’ unreasonable pick rates. A ‘Pick Rate’ is a mechanism used in many factories and distribution centres to monitor employee’s performance and increase efficiencies. The employee, generally referred to as a ‘picker’, is set a target of items they need to pick per hour, which the employer monitors so they can evaluate their performance.
There is nothing inherently wrong with an employer using the ‘pick rate’ system, as long as employees are able to meet their targets, while following the techniques they have been shown in their manual handling training. Unfortunately, employers often give employees excessive ‘pick rates’ where it is impossible to meet your targets in a safe way. Employees can often be asked to lift over 200 items per hour, which forces them to disregard their training in order to meet their targets. This often results in the employees suffering injuries, particularly back injuries and employee may be entitled to bring an accident at work compensation claim*.
Not only are employees often given unreasonable targets, but they can also be put under incredible pressure to meet them. Employees are often given headsets where they are constantly reminded by a supervisor or a manager that they are not meeting their required ‘pick rate’ and that the need to work faster and harder. This unrelenting pressure creates an atmosphere where the employee cannot even think about how they should lift items safely and more likely to do something that will cause them to sustain personal injuries* or have an accident at work*.
This matter was litigated before the High Court in the personal injury court case* of Spes, Slavomir v Windcanton Ireland Ltd . In this case the Plaintiff brought an accident at work claim* and was awarded €153,000. In this case the Honourable High Court Judge stated that a combination of lack of adequate training and safe turning techniques; a rate of work that was excessive and an atmosphere where the workers were forced to take shortcuts when lifting items in an effort to achieve their targets, had result in the plaintiff personal injuries*.
So what should I do if I have been injured at work due to the excessive lifting that I am required to do?
Report the incident that caused the injury to your employer.
Seek immediate medical assistance from your own medical practitioner. You may have to go to the company’s doctor, but you should seek advice before doing so.
Make a note of what happened, detailing what you were lifting when you were injured, where you were lifting it to and from and how much it weighed.
If there are any witnesses to the incident take their details and if applicable take photographs of the scene of the accident.
If you wish to see advise on taking a personal injuries claim* talk to a good personal injuries solicitor*
Workplace Robberies or Workplace Assaults Personal Injuries Claims*
The victims of workplace robberies or workplace assaults can often suffer horrendous physical and psychological injuries. Victims of workplace robberies or assault can make a work compensation claim* in two ways. The first is the victim can make a claim under the ‘Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries* Criminally Inflicted’. The second is they can bring a personal injuries claim*.
‘Scheme of compensation for personal injuries* criminally inflicted’.
There are two major problems we see with bringing a claim under the ‘Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries* Criminally Inflicted’. The first is that the time limits are very tight, being three months from the date of the crime, save in exceptional circumstances. Secondly, the scheme only pays the victims their out of pocket expenses and does not compensate them for the personal injuries* they sustained.
Robbery/Assault at work Personal Injuries claims*
If you are seeking compensation for the injuries you sustained in a workplace robbery or assault you need to bring a personal injuries claim*. At Hanahoe and Hanahoe our Dublin and Naas personal injury solicitors* have acted for numerous employees who were victims of workplace robberies or assaults. Often these clients suffer serious psychological and physical injuries. Thankfully in our experience the physical injuries victims suffer in workplace robberies tend to be relatively minor, however the psychological injuries can be long lasting. People who are assaulted at work, whether by their employer, another employee or in the course of a robbery or other criminal activity, can also sustain serious psychological injuries.
The difficulty with these cases is who do you bring your personal injuries claim* against? Invariable there is very little point in bringing your personal injuries claim* against the perpetrator of the crime, as they will not be in a position to personal injury compensation*. This then raises the interesting question of whether employers are liable for injuries sustained by their employees as a result of the criminal activity of a third party.
Employers have a statutory duty to provide their employees with a safe place of work and while they cannot always prevent crimes from taking place, there are certain actions and precautions they should take to ensure the safety of their employees. Employers should:
- If appropriate provide proper security staff
- Have a working CCTV and/or security system in place
- Ensure staff are trained so they know what to do in a robbery type situation
- Ensure that they have a good conflict resolution policy to prevent fights or assault occurring.
- Ensure that staff are not left alone at their place of work
What should you do if you have sustained injuries in a workplace robbery or assault
If you have been the victim of a robbery at work you should:
- Immediately report the matter to an Garda Siochana
- Advise your employer of the incident and fill out an incident report form
- If you have suffered either physically or psychologically injures you should go and see your Doctor immediately
- If you would like advice on bringing a personal injuries claim* you should speak to a good personal injuries solicitor*.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
What information should I bring to my consultation?
Firstly, if you do not have any of the following information, do not be concerned as we will generally be able to source it ourselves.
However, if possible you should bring the following:
- Details of the date of the accident.
- Your contract of employment or a copy of your wage slip.
- Contact details of any witnesses.
- Contact details of your doctor.
- A copy of the accident report form, if you have it.
For further information please contact Hanahoe and Hanahoe solicitors on 045 897784 or at email@example.com .
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.