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Accidents in the workplace – what to do

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The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts 2005 and 2010 set out the rights and obligations of both employers and employees and provides for substantial fines and penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation but it’s practicalities of what to do on the spot that we address in this article, writes William Cahir of Cahir & Co Solicitors.

1 TYPES OF INJURY
Accidents can happen at work – small examples are a trip or a fall from a height from scaffolding. Falls from stairs or ladders, or a slip on surfaces where slippery/wet surfaces are not seen or expected or injuries where you have been exposed to dangerous or substances without proper protective equipment and clothing. Machinery which was faulty or inadequately serviced. Injuries happen involving lifting heavy objects and general manual handling of persons or items with weight. Safety and Manual handling training in a work place is carried out under The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Applications) Regulations 2007, so the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to manual handling must be followed to avoid injuries.

2 SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION
Attending to the injured is the priority. Reach for the first aid box, calling the onsite medical team or calling 911 for accident and emergency care is the first action to take at the scene. Try to remain calm and get the medical assistance needed on site or at another location wherever the injured party is.

3 REPORT THE ACCIDENT FORMALLY
Report the accident immediately to your employer and do your best to ensure that an accident report form is completed. The obligation is on the employer to record the accident but for the injured it is important to record the detail of the incident as soon as possible afterwards on site or remotely at some stage if you must be removed from the scene to hospital due to injuries. If you think it may be helpful take a picture at the location of the accident then arrange one. It may assist your explanation and description of the accident to the employer or solicitor as to what happened. A faulty machine may be obvious but slips, trips and falls or injuries arising from repetitive injury arising from stress on joints may be more challenging to describe so describing the repetitive work process or capturing the location of the accident or machine involved in the incident a picture may assist.

4 REPORT LOSS OF EARNING
If you have been injured in a workplace accident and are out of work and remain unpaid for the duration of your recovery from an injury at work you may be entitled to a full reimbursement of immediate lost earnings and future earnings in circumstances where the injury has damaged your future opportunities and future loss of earnings – important particularly if you seek to claim.

5 STATE SUPPORT OR PAYMENT
You may be entitled to a state support while you are out of work. Injury Benefit is a weekly payment if you are unfit for work due to the accident. If you are still unfit for work after 26 weeks you may be eligible to apply for Illness Benefit or Disability Allowance. Disablement Benefit is paid if you have a loss of physical or mental faculty after the accident at work, your eligibility will be assessed on application. Any state support is taken into consideration when your claim is successful and a payment for the agreed value of your injury is assessed for payment.

6 GET ADVICE AND SUPPORT EARLY ON
We can advise you in early course of your rights and obligations. Often the first conversation may be to record and report the event, describe what happened and outline the injuries whether serious or minor. We can outline in early course the way the damages for injuries sustained is paid to you and how the out of pocket expenses can be recovered by you or the injured party. You may not be seeking to take a claim until you see the full extent of the injury, the personal cost to you and how it may come against you later in life. You may only wish to receive your out of pocket expenses. Sometimes the onset of post traumatic injury is not immediate. Understanding the straight forward procedure by which you can be
reimbursed is the first step to remove worry. Where a workplace liability is accepted and uncontested the application to review your injury and out of pocket expenses is an out of court process. Seeking clarity as to the simplicity of the claim’s procedure can assist the personal and financial stress.

7 KEEP A DIARY
Mae West once said “Keep a diary, and someday it’ll keep you” and it’s true. Detail the date of the accident, who was there, what happened next, your ongoing injuries, medical appointments, recovery of injuries as they occur, out of pocket expenses & receipts. The mind cannot hold all the
information that you will be asked to recall so note it, jot it down and diary it.

8 GET AND KEEP WITNESS DETAILS
Another person’s recollection and record of the event can be helpful in gathering details but it can also be helpful to support your version of events. If there are witnesses ask them to give their account of the incident. If there is a dispute as to liability an independent person’s account can be helpful to clarify what happened and their statement can help you and your employers.

9 GET AND KEEP WITNESS DETAILS
Taking a picture or asking a work mate to take a picture at the scene may be helpful in assisting to identify the location of the accident. It will aid your description of the incident that happened. It will also be
helpful to your employer to have a picture for the mandatory accident report form that will be completed on site. A picture may be better than a thousand words in showing who or what was where at the time of the incident. “An accident won’t arrive with a bell on its neck” – Finnish Proverb

Contact William Cahir or Avril Collentine solicitors to discuss your work place injuries or accidents. Visit www.Cahirsolciitors.com or Call into see us personally by appointment at 36 Abbey Street Ennis.

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