No matter where you work, be it in an office or on a building site, accidents can unfortunately happen and are relatively common in the workplace. Even if you think an accident at work will never happen to you, every workplace has its own set of hazards that if ignored could cause injuries – even to you!
If you are unfortunate enough to have experienced an accident at work, your first reaction may be that it was your fault and you should have been more careful. It is worthwhile remembering however that your employer is also responsible for your health and safety whilst you are at work.
All employers in Northern Ireland are required by law to minimise accidents at work and take appropriate steps to ensure the work environment is safe and to eliminate or control any risks to your health.
Depending on the nature of your job, this could mean that your employer must:
If you are an employer you have a continuing obligation to provide your staff with a safe working environment. If you fail to do this and a member of staff suffers an injury as a result, you could be liable for a compensation claim. It is also your legal obligation as an employer to have an appropriate insurance policy in place to cover accident at work claims.
A claim for compensation will take into account the injuries suffered including any loss of earnings due to time off work. The claimant may also be eligible for legal aid funding to assist with their claim.
The most common question people ask is whether they can be sacked for making a claim for compensation against their employer. The answer is no, an employer cannot legally dismiss a member of staff simply because they have made a claim for compensation. If an employer attempts to do this the Courts may deem it to be an unfair dismissal.
Similarly, if an employer puts a member of staff under such severe pressure in an attempt to make the claimant resign there could be a strong case for constructive dismissal.
The time limit for making a claim is three years from the date of the accident, however, we recommend that you seek appropriate legal advice as soon as possible after the accident when the details of what actually happened will be fresh and easily remembered.
Should you have been unfortunate to have suffered an injury at work or you are an employer who would like guidance on providing a safe working environment in the eyes of the law, please click here to complete our short form to book and make an appointment. Our experienced solicitors are always on hand to discuss your own individual requirements.
Article attributed to Darren Rainey, Partner, Hunt Solicitors.