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Work Related Accidents Guide

If you’ve experienced an injury at work you may have certain questions in mind regarding your employer’s responsibilities and how to go about instigating an accident at work compensation claim.

On this page are a few highlighted extracts from our guide to the compensation claims process.

What are my employer’s obligations to ensure that I’m not injured at work?

Common law duties

Apart from the extensive body of health and safety legislation that has been passed over the last several decades, there has long existed a common law duty on employers to take reasonable care for their employees’ safety. That said, the courts have consistently ruled that an employer will have discharged his duty of care if he has done what a reasonable and prudent employer would have done in all of the circumstances.

The scope of an employer’s duty of care falls under four principal headings, with an employer being obliged to provide his workforce with:

  • competent co-workers;
  • a safe place of work;
  • proper equipment which is fit for purpose; and
  • a safe system of work.

The extent of an employer’s duty will be decided by looking at each individual employee’s age, knowledge and experience. In other words, an employer would be far more likely to be deemed to be liable to compensate an unseasoned ‘rookie’ who got injured at work than they would a veteran who had had the benefit of years of experience in the workplace when the injury occurred.

This means that, unlike certain other jurisdictions, where no-fault workers’ compensation schemes are operated, in Ireland the onus is on an injured worker to satisfy a court that they suffered their injuries due to their employer failing to take reasonable precautions for their safety.

This is why it is so important for someone who has suffered a workplace injury to ensure that they have made every effort to secure as much evidence as possible before proceeding with their claim so as to be in a position to prove that their employer failed in their duty of care should the employer end up denying liability.

Health and safety legislation

While the common law duty of care of employers has been developing for centuries, dramatic improvements in employees’ safeguards from work-related injuries have been introduced since we joined the European Union. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 provides the present statutory framework for securing the safety, health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace. It imposes broad general duties and organisational arrangements on employers to achieve better standards of safety and health for workers by preventing accidents and illnesses.

Section 8 provides that it shall be the duty of every employer to do everything he or she can, as far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the safety, health and welfare of his or her employees.

While health and safety legislation has dramatically improved the protections which employees are entitled to in the workplace, it must never be forgotten that if an employer denies liability for an employee’s work-related injuries it will fall upon the employee to prove to a court that the employer has breached one or more of their statutory duties.

This is why it is so essential to ensure that expert legal advice is taken as early as possible so as to be sure that your claim will be successful in the event that your employer will not accept responsibility for your injuries.

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