Employer's Duty Of Care
Employment law in Ireland law places strict obligations on employers to protect the safety and wellbeing of employees, particularly by providing a safe place of work, a safe system of work or proper training to their employees. Where injuries are sustained in the workplace it is possible for the injured party to take a legal action against the employer*.
The first issue to be established is whether an injury has actually occurred. The claimant must have sustained some form of injury – either physical or psychological – in the course of his or her employment to bring a workplace injury claim. Examples of the type of injuries that occur in the workplace include injuries caused by heavy lifting, repetitive stress injuries and in recent years the courts have granted awards in cases involving stress and anxiety to employees that arose from workplace bullying and harassment.
The second issue to be established is whether such an injury was sustained due to the lack of care of your employer thereby giving rise to a liability on the part of the employer. While in some cases establishing negligence or breach of duty of care to the injured party by an employer can be straightforward, in certain types of work, or for particular types of injuries, it can be much more difficult.
Workplace personal injuries do not always necessarily result from the direct action, or inaction, of an employer. In some instances, injuries may be caused by the actions of co-workers or other third parties that cause the injury to be sustained. Again, legally an employer is still required to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all employees.
In many workplace accidents an employer will seek to rely on the principle of contributory negligence to find an employee partially at fault for their injury in the workplace. To do so they will have to show that the employee:-
- Contributed to their own injury by acting in a negligent manner when faced with an obvious and/or known risk; or
- Where the injured employee failed to seek appropriate medical attention within a reasonable time of the accident.
A solicitor experienced in dealing with workplace injuries will be able to advise an employee on issues such as liability and any degree of contributory negligence.
A Continuing Working Relationship
A key concern for any employee before considering a workplace accident claim is the possible damage it may cause to their working relationship. For this reason it is critical that the employee engages an experienced solicitor who could progress the injuries claim to a satisfactory resolution in such a manner that avoids (where possible) the need for any drawn out confrontation.