Can compensation for an injury by box cutters at work include being accidentally stabbed by a colleague? We use knives as box cutters and a colleague slipped while opening a box and stabbed me in the thigh.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

A claim for compensation for an injury by box cutters at work can be made if you have been injured in an accident at work which was not your fault, and was the result of employer negligence. Although your employer was not the person who stabbed you, he may have been negligent by failing to correct unsafe working practices.

When knives and cutting devices are used at work there is always a risk of injury. It is your employer’s responsibility to take all practical steps to keep the risk of a box cutter injury at work down to the minimum practical level. This can easily and simply be achieved by ensuring adequate training is provided and by making sure that the correct tools are supplied for each specific job.

If you are required to open boxes at work, you should have been supplied with a safe box cutter to perform the task rather than a knife with an unprotected blade. If knives are routinely used to open boxes in the workplace, it may be considered to place employees at an unacceptably high risk of injury. Your employer should have supplied all staff with a box cutter with safety features to prevent accidental cutting injuries. A failure to provide a tool that allowed boxes to be opened safely is negligence on the part of your employer, and is grounds for claiming compensation for an injury by box cutters at work.

The fact that you have been accidentally stabbed at work is a strong indication that the tools supplied were dangerous for the tasks you and your colleagues were asked to perform. Were box cutters to be supplied with a safety guard or a retractable blade, then it would not have been possible for you to have sustained such an injury. Although it is not possible to confirm whether your employer has been negligent from the information you have provided, the nature of your injury strongly suggests that working practices were dangerous and your employer failed in a duty of care to protect you from harm – therefore you should be entitled to compensation for an injury by box cutters at work.

Your employer must not only have completed a thorough risk assessment to identify all potential sources of injury in the workplace, but risk assessments need to be performed regularly. Employees and managers need to be particularly attentive to health and safety to ensure that staff can perform their day to day duties without risk of a box cutter injury at work.

When attention to health and safety in the workplace is poor, it is the employer who is liable for any box cutter injuries which are sustained by the staff and compensation for injury by box cutters at work can be claimed against the company insurance policy, even if the box cutter injury was caused by another member of staff.

If the appropriate tools are still not supplied to staff at your place of work, making a claim for compensation for an injury by box cutters at work may be what is necessary to enforce a change in health and safety practices. Not only will you be able to recover box cutter injury compensation, but it should ensure that the workplace is a safer place in the future. Consequently, it is in your best interests to discuss compensation for an injury by box cutters at work with a personal injury solicitor at the first practical opportunity.