I suffered a work injury due to a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment and I want to make a claim against my employer for personal injury compensation. How do I go about taking legal action to recover compensation?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Question:

I suffered a work injury due to a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment and I want to make a claim against my employer for personal injury compensation. How do I go about taking legal action to recover compensation?

Answer:

In order to claim for a work injury due to a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment you must first establish that you are eligible to make a claim. While you have sustained an injury in the workplace, it does not necessarily mean you have a valid claim for personal injury compensation. Initiating legal action against an employer can place a strain on working relations with your employer and work colleagues, so it is important that legal action is only initiated if a claim has a reasonable chance of being successful.

A claim for personal injury compensation can only be made against an employer if he or she has been negligent with regards to your personal safety in the workplace and has failed in a duty of care to protect you from coming to harm in the course of your work duties. A failure to provide appropriate personal protective equipment can certainly constitute employer negligence provided that:

  • The tasks you were asked to perform warranted the use of personal protective equipment
  • You were instructed to perform a task which placed you at an unacceptable risk of injury without appropriate health and safety equipment
  • Your injury would have been avoided had personal protective equipment been worn

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005) employers must conduct a risk assessment in the workplace to identify potential hazards to health and take all practical steps to reduce those risks. When health risks remain and cannot be eliminated, working practices, training and protective personal equipment should be provided as appropriate. A failure to identify risks and to provide appropriate personal protective equipment is a failure in a duty of care to protect employees from coming to harm. Should an employee sustain an injury as a direct result, compensation for work injury due to a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment can be claimed against the employer’s liability insurance policy.

Claiming compensation for a work injury due to a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment will be possible if your employer has been negligent and proof of this negligence can be collected. However there are a number of factors which can affect the likelihood of making a successful claim. A work injury due to a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment must be diagnosed by a doctor or at a hospital, and medical treatment must be sought promptly after an injury has been sustained. A claim for a work injury due to a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment will also not be possible if an accident report has not been made in an employer’s ‘Accident Book’. Medical records and the accident book report will be used by a personal injury solicitor as proof of injury and that it occurred in the workplace.

Although it is not necessary to pursue a compensation claim for an injury caused by a lack of appropriate personal protective equipment with the assistance of a personal injury solicitor – a work injury compensation claim can be made directly through the Injuries Board Ireland – the majority of work accident victims choose to use a solicitor to pursue their claim. This increases the chances of recovering an appropriate compensation settlement and helps to reduce awkward workplace confrontations with employers.