Accidents involving vehicles are the leading cause of work related fatalities in Ireland, with 152 work related vehicle deaths recorded by the HAS between 2009 and 2015. Many hundreds more are injured in accidents involving staff being hit by vehicles, hit by objects falling from the vehicle, or whilst using or maintaining a company owned vehicle. Any employer that owns or leases vehicles for use by their staff should consider a Work Related Vehicle Safety (WRVS) plan as part of their obligation to meet the legal requirements set out in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
Failure to comply with Section 8 of the Act, pertaining to vehicle safety, runs the risk of both costly litigation by injured staff members as well as the possibility of criminal proceedings too. The following information sets out employer’s responsibilities, scenarios where personal injury claims may arise, and guidance regarding bringing a claim.
What are the legal requirements for employers regarding work related vehicle usage?
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 is Ireland’s primary legislation governing occupational safety and health. Employers must be complaint with this act by identifying hazards, assessing risks, and implementing necessary preventive measures. The Act emphasises cooperation between employers and employees, obliges businesses to provide necessary training and information, and establishes the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to oversee and enforce its provisions. Non-compliance can result in substantial penalties and legal consequences.
Section 8 of the Act defines vehicles as a place of work and mandates that employers must provide:
- Vehicles that well maintained and designed, without risk to operators or bystanders.
- Secure entry and exit pathways for vehicles that are consistently maintained and free of hazards.
- Work systems, including those for vehicle loading and unloading, that are regularly planned, organised, maintained, and updated as necessary.
- Comprehensive information, guidance, training, and supervision for all employees operating work-related vehicles.
What types of vehicle related accidents at work can lead to personal injury claims?
Vehicle-related accidents at work encompass a wide range of incidents that can lead to personal injury claims. Such accidents can occur in various settings, from construction sites to public places. One common type is forklift accidents, which may involve collisions, tip-overs, or workers being struck by the machine. Similarly, in construction or industrial settings, heavy machinery like backhoes or bulldozers might be involved in accidents that harm workers or bystanders.
Delivery drivers or employees who travel as part of their job could be involved in road traffic accidents while on duty. This could include collisions between vehicles, or with pedestrians, cyclists, or stationary objects. Furthermore, employees working near vehicles, such as traffic controllers or road maintenance trucks, are at risk of being struck by moving vehicles. In office settings, accidents might involve employees being hit by a company car in the business’s car park. Additionally, inadequate vehicle maintenance or faulty equipment could result in malfunctions leading to injuries.
In all these scenarios, if the accident occurs due to employer negligence, such as inadequate training, poor vehicle maintenance, or lack of safety protocols, the injured party may be eligible to file a personal injury claim.Top of FormBottom of Form
What should I do if I have been involved in an accident involving a vehicle at work?
It goes without saying that, if you’ve been involved in an accident, your priority is to seek medical attention for yourself and any other injured parties. In terms of what you should do from a legal perspective, you should take steps to document everything you experienced as soon as possible. In cases where you have sustained a very serious injury, this may not be possible for many days, weeks, or even months after the incident. However, if you are well enough to document what happened, be sure to keep an accurate record of time and date, witness details, any photographs, CCTV, or video footage of the scene. Report the incident to your employer as soon as you can. Your employer is legally obligated to report certain types of accidents to the HSA, so you will want to make sure they have done that.
How do I bring a work vehicle accident claim?
If you have reported your accident to your employer, and sought treatment for the injuries you sustained, you may then wish to bring a compensation claim. At this stage you will need to consult with a personal injury solicitor who has experience in vehicle-related accident cases. They’ll guide you through the legal process, which typically involves gathering evidence, obtaining witness statements, and assessing the extent of your injuries and potential long-term impact. Your solicitor will then negotiate with the responsible party or their insurance company on your behalf to secure a fair settlement for your injuries.
Require further advice from a personal injury specialist?
The McCarthy + Co team has over 30 years’ experience bringing successful personal injury claims, including cases relating work vehicle accidents. If you, or a member of your family, has sustained a serious injury due to a work-related accident, you may have the grounds to bring a claim. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as we can.