It’s reported that every working day seven people are injured in a slip, trip or fall at work, or on the way to work. This is the highest cause of injury in the workplace. The HSA estimates that around 29% of non-fatal injuries are a result of a slip, trip or fall at work.
Sometimes, we’re asked, “ What should I do after suffering a fall at work?”. So, below we’ve outlined a few informational points on common causes of falls at work, high-risk jobs, what to do after a fall at work/steps to take, whether you can claim for a fall in the workplace, and slips, trips and fall compensation.
Common causes of falls at work
Different industries will have different typical causes of fall or slips in the workplace, but usually, these can be categorised into failures in health & safety procedures or falls caused by employee carelessness.
Every employer has a duty of care to provide a safe work environment, and will usually identify hazards to lower or prevent the risk of accidents in the workplace. But, failures in health & safety procedures still occur. On the other hand, employee carelessness in the workplace is a contributory factor for some slips, trips and fall accidents. Most workplaces will implement employee training helping to prevent these accidents.
High-risk areas in the workplace for slips, trips and falls
There are reportedly places of higher risk for falls in the workplace, where more diligence is required. But, history does have a habit of repeating itself — so where slips, trips or falls have happened before, it is likely to happen again.
High risk areas include:
- Steps and stairs. Every day someone has an accident on steps or stairwells, this most commonly happens while a person is walking down the steps and slips.
- Wet surfaces or where liquids are stored or transported.
- Mats, rugs or uneven floor coverings.
Sometimes jobs that we would think of as being high risk or dangerous e.g. mining, firefighting etc., aren’t necessarily the ones that cause the most accidents or injuries. Below is a list of the most dangerous jobs/industries in Ireland:
- Vehicle garages
- Admin and support services
- Transportation and storage
- Health and social work
Farming is Ireland’s deadliest occupation. Farmers are 10 times more likely to be killed at work than any other profession. Most fatalities are caused by taking risks with machinery and animals. There are many tasks on the farm that poses a risk of slips, trips and falls, these are the largest cause of non-fatal accidents on the farm.
- Working at height
- Working on uneven or slippery surfaces
- Using ladders
- Getting on and off tractors
- Working in the milking shed
- Working with vats, tanks and silos
- Working with livestock.
The second most hazardous occupation is the construction industry. Much work has been done to create a health and safety first culture in the construction industry, but accidents and injuries are still high among sole traders and small firms. In 2017, a man died after falling from a ladder whilst working on a new house build.
“There were five fatal falls from height in 2016 and 2 in 2017. All involved small contractors or self-employed construction workers.”
“Falls, slips and trips were the main cause of non-fatal accidents in construction in 2017, with movements such as lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, bending and twisting the next most common cause.”
What to do after a fall
Firstly, if you or the person involved in the fall has an injury, you should seek medical help. You should be aware to that sometimes soft tissue injury symptoms don’t appear for a few days, so if you notice pain at a later date it might be best to get it checked out. The doctor or hospital will complete a medical report; these reports are important and might be required at a later date.
Contact your employer
You need to inform your employer or supervisor of the accident and/or injury. There is likely to be a time limit on reporting an injury, so from a legal perspective, you need to report the incident as soon as possible. Sometimes this needs to be done in writing, so you should ask for the company procedure on reporting accidents.
Reporting the accident
Health, safety and welfare at work regulation in Ireland obliges all employers and self employed persons to reports all accidents and injuries, that caused the employee to be absent from work for more than three consecutive days, to the Health & Safety Authority.
The details of the fall accident should be recorded in your employer’s Accident Report Log including details of the injuries sustained. You should keep a copy of this report as you might require this information if a claim is made against your employer for negligence.
It might be useful to keep a diary of time and dates, eyewitness reports, photographs etc.
Common injury types from falls
A fall from heights is likely to cause the most serious of injuries. Out of non-fatal falls, the worst injuries are to the head, even what might appear to be a minor head injury needs medical attention — if there is swelling, bleeding or loss of consciousness treat it as a medical emergency. One of the most devastating type of head injury is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), severity various but it can lead to permanent damage to the brain.
Other serious injuries from falls include back and spinal cord injuries, these injuries can cause serious pain and limited mobility, immediate medical attention should be sought if this injury is suspected. On the other end of the scale, injuries include shoulder dislocation a condition called brachial plexus injury. Injuries on the other end of the scale include: sprains and fractures, twisted knee, sprained ankle, arms or wrists. Slips, trips and falls mostly lead to some form of musculoskeletal injury, and/or cuts and bruises.
If your fall at work injury forces you to take leave from work, you might be eligible for injury benefit. The payment is provided under the occupational injuries benefit scheme, find out more information on the Citizens Information website.
Can I claim?
Your employer has a duty to provide a safe work environment for employees. If you have suffered an injury physical or psychological due to someone else’s negligence, or hazardous work conditions, or inadequate equipment, you are entitled to claim compensation for pain and suffering caused. How do you know if you have a personal injury case?
Slips, trips and falls are common in the workplace and not all will be eligible for compensation. For a claim to be successful, negligence or blame must be established. There may be more than one employer involved in the negligence, this is where contributory negligence comes into play.
Contributory negligence also applies to the victim of the accident, i.e how the victim’s actions or lack of actions, led to the accident an example would be the injured party not wearing inappropriate footwear.
Case example: A shop manager in Dublin received €47,000 after suffering a knee injury from slipping on a wet floor in her work premises. Liability was admitted by the shop, so no assessment of contributory negligence was made.
It’s best to get your personal injury solicitor involved now, he/or she will talk you through your claim eligibility and the steps you need to take.
Where do I submit a claim?
Claims for slip, trips and falls are made through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), applications should be submitted along with your medical reports and the copy of your employer’s accident report. It’s recommended to hire a personal injury solicitor, they will take care of this application for you and all necessary documentation.
Fall at work claims should be initiated within two years of the accident occurring, this time period is legally known as the statute of limitations.
Fall at work compensation
Some people may feel reluctant to make a compensation claim against their employers because of fears of victimisation or workplace reprisals. But, you are protected against termination from employment, and if you are off work for any length of time, your employer does not have to pay you — so compensation awarded will help cover the loss of earnings.
Employers usually have employee liability insurance cover to protect their business, and to cover the cost of compensation, if a fall at work compensation claim is made against them.
Falls at work are common, so no matter where you work you should be vigilant of risks; not only risks of harm to yourself, but also of harm of others. Report hazards to your employer or health & safety officer. If you are unfortunate and have been injured in a fall, you are welcome to call our friendly and helpful personal injury solicitors, how will guide you on the best steps to take, if you have a personal injury* claim.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.”