What are the criteria for claiming compensation for a work illness? I am certain that I contracted salmonella at work as I was not the only employee to be off work after eating at the staff canteen.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

In order to claim compensation for a work illness you must have developed an illness as a direct consequence of your work or workplace environment. Contracting salmonella in a staff canteen would certainly qualify you to claim compensation for a work illness. Contracting an illness at work such as flu from another member of staff would not entitle you to claim compensation for a work illness. The reason for this is that compensation for a work illness can only be claimed if the illness was contracted due to the negligence of your employer.

In order for an employer to be liable for a claim for compensation for a work illness, it must be established that the employer has been negligent and failed in a duty of care to protect an employee from coming to harm. An employer owes a duty of care to all staff to make sure that the workplace is safe, and that employees are not placed at risk of contracting an illness at work – such as when using staff facilities such as the canteen.

Ensuring the canteen is hygienic, produce is stored correctly at all times and is used within sell by dates is under the control of your employer. Canteen staff should be competent and well aware of proper cooking times to ensure that the food served is safe to eat. An outbreak of salmonella from a staff canteen food is a clear case of employer negligence and compensation for a work illness can be claimed by all staff affected.

However, in order for a claim for compensation for a work illness to be successful, you must be able to establish beyond reasonable doubt that salmonella was in fact contracted in the workplace. While you are sure that this was the case, you must be able to provide evidence of this to back up your claim for a work illness. The first step you must have taken is to have had your illness confirmed by a doctor. You must have visited a doctor and obtained a diagnosis of food poisoning, as this must be recorded in your medical records in order for compensation for a work illness to be claimed. You must also make a report in your employers Accident Book detailing the meal you ate in the canteen, the date and time of the visit and the time it took for you to start to feel unwell.

You should also try to obtain the contact details of any other members of staff who were taken ill after eating at the canteen and you should speak to a personal injury solicitor about claiming compensation for a work illness. Compensation claims for food poisoning at work are rarely straightforward and the assistance of a personal injury solicitor can be invaluable. Using a solicitor to prepare and pursue your claim will certainly help you to increasing the likelihood of recovering work illness compensation and proving that your food poisoning was due to the staff canteen food.