An accident or injury at work is an unfortunate event. Work-related accidents can have serious effects on a person’s metal, physical, and financial state. 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 is a result of an unsafe working environment. 

Accidents at work can occur in a number of different environments; in the office, on a building site, on a farm or any any premises that an employee is legally required to be during the course of the 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.  

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What responsibilities does your employer have?

Accidents in the workplace can be completely avoidable inconveniences, in most cases. When claiming against an employer it is important to understand that there are obligations on every employer in Ireland (Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005), whether they are a large construction company or a small retail premises, 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 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. 

The employer must:

  • Maintain a safe workplace, machinery, and equipment
  • Use appropriate measures to prevent risks that may come form the use of any article or substance and prevent risks from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
  • Prevent any improper conduct or behavior 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 the employees)
  • Appoint a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer
  • Carry out risk assessment for the workplace which should identify potential hazards that could lead to a workplace accident

Steps to making a claim

1. Report the Accident to your Manager

It is important that you report the accident as soon as possible to the local Garda and your car insurance company. The Gardai may or may not attend the scene of the crash. This will depend on how serious the accident was. In cases where the Gardai decide not to attend the scene of the crash, it is important that you visit your local Gardai station as soon as possible. In order to give a full statement of the accident. Do not make admit any liability at the scene of the accident to the Gardai or to the other parties involved in the accident.

2. Speak to a Work accident Solicitor

After being involved in a workplace accident and if you are considering moving forward with a claim for any personal injuries or material damages sustained it is advisable that you speak with a work accident claims solicitor as soon as possible. 

If proceeding with a claim the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. 

It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident and also to retain copies of medical reports of Garda reports, where possible as you will need them when making a claim.

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Common causes of Work Accidents

Slip, Trip and fall

Slips, trips and falls are on of the most common causes of personal injuries sustained in the workplace. Wherever your work setting is – whether that is a shop, factory or an office, you’re likely to encounter a slippery, uneven, or hazardous surface at some stage. These accidents are completely avoidable where the correct safety measures are in place and your employer may be found liable if it is shown that they were negligent in ensuring a safe working environment for their employees.

Inadequate Training

There is a certain risk associated with working, so it is important that employees are properly trained on how to correctly use equipment and machinery. Inadequate training can lead to accidents and injury of both employees and members of the public. Insufficient training, for example manual handling training, is a common cause of workplace accidents so it is important that employees attend any training that is provided to them prior to completing a job.

Negligent Behaviour

If an employer is acting negligently during the course of their work, it is likely that an accident will occur. The chance of an accident occurring is greater if any machinery being used is not used for the purpose intended. If you have been injured while using machinery and it has been found that you were acting in an unsafe manner, it is likely that you will be found liable. Another example of this is if the employees are not wearing the correct protective equipment.

Faulty Equipment

It is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that all equipment and machinery used in the workplace is maintained to a high standard to ensure the safe use and health and safety of employees. The improper use of equipment and machinery due to a lack of training can also result in an accident at work.

Vehicle Crashes and Collisions

These types of workplace accidents may involve cars, lorries or even other vehicles such as forklift trucks. These accidents include:

  • Being struck by a moving vehicle,
  • Being struck by falling objects from vehicle
  • Falling from a vehicle or getting stuck or crushed by overturned vehicles
Objects falling from a height

Those using a forklift or cherry picker may be varying items at more of a height than it is likely that items may fall from the forklift or cherry pickers injuring other employees or members of the public. It is important that the precautions are in place to reduce the risk of items falling if they are not secured properly.  

Falling from a height

Falling from a height, while more common in construction or manual work environments, is also common in other environments such as office, retails, ect. Falling from a height usually means that the person was either:

  • Working on a ladder,
  • A roof,
  • Using a step ladder to reach a high place,
  • Working on a fragile surface,
  • Falling from a high vehicle

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