Employers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland owe a duty of care to their employees to ensure that they are protected from unnecessary risk of injury in the workplace. If this duty is breached, then the risk of a workplace injury will be inevitably heightened.
Some of the basic health and safety requirements that employers must provide include;
• Ensuring that a safe working environment is provided for employees and visitors to the employer’s premises.
• Ensuring that appropriate risk assessments are carried out in line with Article 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000. This legislation places a requirement on all employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees.
• Ensuring that Personal Protective Equipment is provided to employees in line with Article 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (NI) 1999. This legislation places a requirement on all employers to ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.
• Ensuring that all employees are provided with adequate and up to date health and safety training in the workplace.
• Ensuring that necessary safety mechanisms are in place.
• Ensuring that adequate supervision is provided when necessary.
If an employer does not comply with any one of these obligations, then they may have acted negligently and in breach of their statutory duty as outlined above.
Different job types will require different levels of health and safety mechanisms and training. For example, there will be less risk of injury to an employee who is employed in an office than a machine operator or construction worker for example. The level of risk involved with a particular job will, therefore, dictate the degree of health and safety provisions that must be put in place by employers.
Nonetheless, accidents can occur in any working environment and the advice we give to clients is generally the same when it comes to what employees should do in the immediate aftermath of an accident at work. If you have been involved in an accident at work a useful checklist to follow would be as follows;
1. Seek medical attention – depending on the severity of your injuries you may need urgent medical attention. It is important to assess your health before taking any further steps.
2. Report the accident to a superior – It is important to ensure that accurate details are given regarding the date, time and nature of the accident.
3. Do Not admit liability – Though you may believe your injury was caused by human error, this may not be the case. You may have unknowingly been subjected to an unsafe system of work or been given a task which you have not received appropriate training for. You should remain silent on liability until you speak to a solicitor.
4. Contact Solicitor – Get in contact with our expert personal injury solicitors. We will take your instructions and advise you on where liability may lie.
5. Keep a diary of important details – After an accident occurs it is good practice to keep a note of any expenses you have incurred as a result of your accident; this will be vital for making a claim for special damages. You should also take a note of any witnesses to your accident and record their details.
How We Can Help
Following the post-accident guidelines above will help you to protect your position if you are involved in an accident at work. However, don’t worry if the accident has already occurred and you have not complied with these guidelines; this does not necessarily mean that your case will be jeopardised or that you will not be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
If you decide that you want to make a claim for compensation you can arrange an appointment with one of our accident at work solicitors and they will walk you through the claims process. The claims process can vary but will generally take the following format:
1. Free Initial Consultation – We will meet the injured client and take their instructions about the accident at work. We will also take this opportunity to advise clients on the prospect of success based on the instructions they have provided.
2. Letter of Claim – Based on the instructions you have provided we will then send a letter to your employer outlining the circumstances of the accident and highlighting our allegations of negligence and breach of statutory duty. The employers insurance company will then come on record and we will liaise with them in all further correspondence.
3. Medical Evidence – If the injured client has been to the hospital or their GP as a result of the accident, we will obtain those notes. We will then arrange for our client to be examined by a specialist medical Consultant who will provide a report on their injuries.
4. Decision on Liability – The employers insurance company must complete their investigations into liability within about 3 months from the letter of claim being sent. If liability is admitted, we will enter into settlement negotiations and our solicitors will use their expertise to ensure that you receive a level of compensation that reflects your loss. This will take into account the injuries suffered and any financial loss, including loss of earnings.
5. Court proceedings – If liability has been denied and we feel the case is worth pursuing we will issue Court proceedings against your employer to recover compensation. Court proceedings can also be issued if we feel the compensation being offered by the insurance company is not sufficient. Our expert solicitors will advise clients on their options but the final decision will always be made by the client and we will ensure that their wishes are carried out at all times during the claims process
This is a hypothetical scenario which may help you to understand the process of making a claim for compensation:
John is a 40-year father who works as a general operative at a large engineering company. He is assisting a fellow employee with lifting a large piece of metal and transporting it to a machine. In the process of carrying out this task the metal slips from the other employee’s hand causing it to fall on to John’s foot. John is in a great deal of pain and has to be taken to hospital. He manages to inform his supervisor of what has happened before he leaves.
John discovers that he has fractured a bone in his foot and wants to pursue a claim for compensation. He contacts PA Duffy and Company and arranges an appointment with one of our personal injury solicitors. About 6 weeks after the accident John is examined by a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon as instructed by his solicitor. The medico-legal report confirms that John has sustained a fracture and his symptoms are likely to persist for about 3-4 months.
In the meantime, the employer’s insurance company have admitted liability and have entered into settlement negotiations with PA Duffy and Company. They offer a sum of £8,000 but John’s solicitor advises him that this is not sufficient, particularly because John was off work for 6 weeks as a result of the accident and needs to claim back his loss of earnings. Negotiations continue between solicitor and insurance company and they eventually agree to settle at a sum of £14,500. John’s solicitor is satisfied that this offer adequately reflects the loss and damage suffered and John is delighted with the result.