What Are the Top 5 Work accidents Claims?
Workplace accidents happen for all kinds of reasons. Many of these lead to a successful personal injury claim, in which the injured person is provided Reimbursement for their pain, suffering and financial damages.
Below we list the 5 of the most common types of work accident claim. If you have been injured while completing your work duties, we urge you to contact our personal injury team for advice. We can explain whether you have grounds to pursue legal action.
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What is a workplace accident?
A workplace accident is when someone is injured while performing their work duties. In this context, ‘injury’ can mean a physical injury, a psychological injury, or an illness such as mesothelioma.
A workplace accident will lead to a personal injury claim if the incident occurred as a result of negligence. Typically, fault lies with the employer. This is because employers in Ireland have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees, contractors and any other visitors to the premises. If they fail to meet this legal duty – and someone is injured as a result – there will be grounds for a Reimbursement claim.
Where do workplace accidents happen?
Accidents at work happen in all types of working environment. According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector is the most dangerous in Ireland, accounting for more than half of all fatal workplace accidents in both 2017 and 2018. This is followed by the transportation and storage industry, and the construction industry.
The HSA also reports that in 2018, the most common working environment for non-fatal injuries in Ireland was production areas, factories and workshops. This is followed by shops and sales service areas, and hospitals and other healthcare settings.
However, the reality is that no workplace is immune from accidents. That is why employers must adhere to the rules and regulations that govern health and safety in the workplace. Otherwise, employees will be placed in unnecessary danger, increasing the risk of a preventable injury or illness.
Most common types of work accident claim
If an employer is found to be at fault for an employee’s workplace accident, it will lead to a work accident Reimbursement claim. Five of the most common causes of work accident claim include:
- Manual handling
According to the HSA, manual handling has been the leading cause of non-fatal workplace injuries in recent years. Manual handling refers to the lifting, pushing or pulling of heavy objects. This can be inanimate objects, such as boxes. It can also be the lifting or turning of patients in hospitals, care homes or other healthcare settings.
Manual handling injuries usually manifest themselves as back, neck and shoulder injuries. These can be extremely debilitating and can lead to a prolonged period of recovery, along with long-lasting damage.
To prevent such injuries, employers should limit the need for manual lifting wherever possible. This might mean introducing mechanical equipment or pulley systems to alleviate the pressure placed on employees. If this isn’t possible, staff should be given adequate training in how to perform manual lifting properly. Personal protective equipment such as gloves should be provided where necessary, as well as equipment to aid the task at hand.
Before manual handling takes place, a risk assessment should be carried out. This helps to eliminate hazards and improve the safety of employees. The assessment should also determine how often an employee should perform a manual handling task, and the load of the weight.
If an employer fails to take these measures, it may lead to a manual handling claim. These claims usually hinge upon an employer’s failure to:
- Provide training
- Provide personal protective equipment
- Provide sufficient rest periods
- Provide adequate equipment to aid/minimise manual handling
- Protect employees from the handling of unsafe loads
- Slips, trip and falls
The next most common cause of workplace accidents is ‘falls on the same level’. This is another way of saying slips and trips that lead to a fall. These are most prevalent in the wholesale and retail sector, where hazards such as pallet trucks, boxes, uneven floors, wet floors and stray wires all pose a threat.
Slips, trips and falls can cause various injuries, most notably broken bones, soft tissue damage and head injuries. At best, a slip, trip or fall will result in a period of rehabilitation. At worst, it will lead to surgery and ongoing physical ailments.
The key to preventing slips, trips and falls in the workplace is to implement safe working systems. It may not be possible to prevent a spillage, but it is possible to enforce a system whereby that spillage is quickly identified, cleared and signposted. An employer must also ensure that employees enjoy a safe place of work, with adequate lighting, safety rails and flooring. This includes safe walkways which are free from obstruction and loose wires.
Slip, trip and fall claims usually occur due to:
- Spillages not being cleared
- Wet floors not being signposted
- Loose wires and cables
- Errant items such as boxes
- Unsafe flooring
- Inadequate lighting
- Fall from height
Falls from height are the leading cause of workplace fatalities in Ireland. Such accidents can happen in any sector, but are particularly problematic in the construction industry where tasks must often be performed at height. Roofs, scaffolding, ladders, cranes and elevated platforms are all potential sources of a fall from height.
These types of accidents are extremely serious. Catastrophic brain and spinal injuries may be sustained. Even if the injuries are not fatal, they are likely to be life-changing in nature, with permanent pain and disability.
Working at height is known to be dangerous. Employers must take extra caution when employees and contractors are performing tasks above floor level. Risk assessments must be carried out to identify hazards and minimise the risks. The correct machinery and personal protective equipment should be provided, and safe working practices enforced at all times. Additional factors, such as adverse weather conditions, should be taken into account when deciding whether it is safe to work at height.
If a fall from height does happen in the workplace, the injured person or their family may be entitled to pursue a claim. These are often tragic cases and typically happen because of:
- Adverse weather conditions
- A lack of equipment, such as harnesses
- Unsafe working systems
- Unsafe equipment
- Fragile surfaces
- Negligent co-workers
- Loss of control of vehicles, handling equipment or animals
Lots of workplaces use vehicles and handling equipment. The HSA reports that this is one of the most common causes of fatal injuries at work, whereby the operator loses control of the vehicle or machine and causes injury, either to himself or others. The loss of control of animals, most notably cattle, is also cited as a common cause of fatal accidents.
Tractors, rubbish trucks and forklifts are all potentially dangerous in the wrong hands. Operators must have a special licence, and be properly trained and supervised. Safe working systems must be implemented to ensure a collision does not accidentally take place – whether with another vehicle, a person standing in the wrong place, or something else. Vehicles and handling equipment must also be maintained to a safe standard and undergo regular inspections.
In agricultural settings, steps must be taken to minimise the risks associated with working with animals, so far is as reasonably practicable.
Workplace accidents involving vehicles, handling equipment or animals tend to occur due to:
- Unsafe vehicles, machinery or equipment
- Lack of training or supervision
- Negligent co-workers
- Unsafe working systems
- Lack of personal protective equipment
Some workers require the use of protective personal equipment (PPE) when performing their work duties. This might include hard hats, respirators, eye goggles, gloves and safety harnesses, to name but a few examples. If an employer fails to provide these items, or fails to maintain them to a safe standard, an employee may suffer a preventable injury.
Depending on the cause of the accident, an employee may suffer a head injury, eye damage, hearing loss or lung damage. This could affect the individual’s quality of life, and may even hinder their ability to work in the future.
An employer must therefore ensure that employers are provided with the correct PPE. This means it is adequate for the task in hand and is in good working condition. Employees must also be told how to use the personal protective equipment, and given training if needed. The use of PPE must be reviewed on a regular basis, as additional or alternative equipment may become necessary – either due to the changing nature of the job, or developments in PPE technology.
Work accident claims relating to personal protective equipment usually happen because:
- No PPE was provided
- Inadequate PPE was provided
- PPE was poorly maintained
- There was no training and supervision
What to do if you’ve suffered a workplace accident
There are various other ways in which a workplace accident can happen, many of which lead to successful Reimbursement claims. If you have experienced an injury at work, we advise that you take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention
Your health is of course the most important factor. In the event of a serious accident, you will likely be taken to A&E. But even if you think your injuries aren’t severe, it is advised that you seek medical attention. Shock can mask the true extent of your injuries, and in some cases, a delayed diagnosis can exacerbate the problem.
- Record your accident
When you are able, ask that the accident is recorded in the company’s accident handbook. If your injuries mean that you cannot carry out your normal work duties for more than three consecutive days, the incident must also be reported to the Health and Safety Authority.
- Gather evidence
If you can, it is useful to gather evidence that shows where and how your accident happened. This might include photos of the scene of the accident, and the names and contact details of witnesses who saw the accident happen.
- Contact us for advice
Next, contact our personal injury solicitors for advice. We know it’s not always obvious if you have grounds to make a work accident claim, so we will clarify your legal position, explaining whether you are entitled to Reimbursement . This is all part of your no-obligation consultation.
Concerns about making a work accident claim?
You might be concerned about making a work accident claim. For example, you might fear reprisal at work, especially if you are still working for the same employer. You might even worry that you will lose your job. Another common concern is that your employer will have to pay for your accident Reimbursement .
However, you cannot be treated less favourably at work because you are making a work accident claim, and nor can you be fired. Also, your employer should have liability insurance. This will cover the cost of your Reimbursement claim. We can discuss this in more detail with you, along with any other concerns, when you contact us for a no-obligation enquiry.
Make an enquiry
If you have been injured at work and would like to talk to a personal injury solicitor about your options, please contact us at Gibsons & Associates.