There are many risks of injuries that nurses and care providers in hospitals face from manual handling activities. It is not possible to avoid manual handling tasks in the healthcare sector, however, risks must be identified, reduced, and employers have safety requirements in the workplace regarding their employees.
Risk identification and risks addressed can mean a change in the work system, personnel, or manual handling aids, for example.
If an employee is injured at work due to negligence, this post can give you some information about the accident at work claim* process.
Duties of Employers
Employers in the healthcare sector have several duties aimed at reducing manual handling healthcare accidents. Employers should, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- Ensure the safety, welfare and health of the employers at the workplace.
- Avoid hazardous manual handling.
- Assess injury risks from unavoidable manual handling that is hazardous.
- Reduce injury risks to the lowest level possible.
- Avail written assessment and action plans to all employees.
- Determine and implement codes of practice to offer guidance on manual handling in the workplace.
- Monitor policies and codes of practice and take action when they are not properly applied.
- Prepare and revise the plans and procedures to be followed in case of emergency injuries.
Negligence and Duty of Care
Negligence consists of the failure of an employer to reasonably fulfil their duties to employees and the employee suffers as a result. Employers have obligations regarding employee safety and can be found negligent in respect of manual handling healthcare accidents involving staff members.
Employers found liable for negligence will face legal consequences for the injury sustained by the employee. Some examples of negligence by employers in the healthcare sector include:
- Negligent hiring: Which may involve hiring of a worker who lacks the credentials, training and experience in manual handling tasks.
- Negligent retention: Involves retaining an employee who has violated the codes of practice in manual handling activities.
- Negligent supervision: Failure by the employer to fulfil their duty in providing proper supervision is regarded as negligent supervision
- Negligent training: Training methods that are haphazard and incomplete can compromise the safety, health and welfare of the employees.
Before commencing a legal action for a healthcare accident, it is necessary to apply the principles of negligence and statutory duties of employers to the facts.
Training and Supervision
There should be a well-planned approach in providing manual handling as well as patient handling treatment in the workplace. Training and supervision should be done regularly in order to update and emphasize the information provided earlier to employees.
A designated supervisor should have the responsibility of supervising manual handling and should be fully competent to fulfil the role. The essential principles that should be considered in manual handling training include:
- There should be an overall strategy of reducing the risks in manual handling.
- Staff should be instructed on the safe use of manual handling equipment.
- Training should be based on practical handling skills that are problem-solving.
- Training should be kept up to date in a form that is understandable by the employees.
Employers ought to appoint competent persons such as manual handling experts or back care advisers to provide competent training.
Hoists are essential in handling patients and thus reducing the degree of manual handling done by the care providers.
Patient hoists are a workplace equipment meant for use by the employees and should therefore comply with relevant provisions.
Such provisions are those that relate to the safety, health and welfare of the employees at the workplace.
The hoists should be properly selected, used and maintained in a manner that ensures the safety of both the patients and the care providers.
Duties of Employees
Employees also have duties in prevention of manual handling healthcare accidents. They should:
- Follow the systems that have been laid down to ensure their safety.
- Understand and be fully aware of the manual handling policies and codes of practice.
- Make proper an cautious use of the equipment provided to ensure their safety.
- Co-operate with their supervisors on training and safety matters
- Inform the management on defects in the safety equipment or hazardous manual handling activities.
Safer Handling Policy
Employers should strive to ensure that the working practices of their employees are as safe as possible. The planning and introduction of a safer handling policy is important in achieving safer working practices. By doing so, employers will boost the quality of care provided to patients and also avoid costs associated with non-compliance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Accident at Work Claim* Form ?
This is termed Form A which is simply the application form to the Injuries Board can be made by completing and submitting Form A with the application fee €45 or €90 and a medical report.
An injured party must apply to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board by filling out an Injuries Board Assessment Form A.
If any costs have been incurred, remember to attach receipts for any financial losses related to the personal injury* with the application to the Injuries Board. Include a copy of correspondence from the person you deem responsible for the injury, and send the application fee. The Board will write back to acknowledge receiving your documents and to give you your application number.
How do accident claims* work ?
An initial step for any injured party who wishes to initiate a personal injury claim* is to make an application to the Board. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board is a statutory body that carries out its own private, independent assessment of a persons personal injury* claim. It will not assess claims regarding the provision of any medical or surgical procedure in relation to a person, or the provision of any medical advice or treatment to a person.
A purely paper-based system, it never carries out oral hearings but assesses claims with regard to medical evidence, such as the medical report furnished by the injured party to the Board.
If the person who caused the injury consents to the Injuries Board assessing the application, or if they fail to state in writing whether they consent to the assessment or not, the Injuries Board will proceed to carry out the assessment.
If the person who causes the accident states in writing that they do not consent to the Injuries Board making an assessment, the Injuries Board will issue whats termed an authorisation, which permits the applicant (injured party) to bring legal proceedings.
Here is more information about the personal injury claims* process.
How do I claim for an accident at work ?
This is answered in the paragraphs above.
What should I do after an accident at work ?
After you attend to the medical care, report the accident to the employer.
While you are considering your options, it is very helpful if you write out the details of the facts to keep in case you are thinking of taking a case.
Facts and evidence get lost and it is to the detriment of many people who subsequently decide to take cases when it doesn’t need to be an issue.
How long do accident at work claims* take ?
There is no one singular answer that can be given which works for everybody.
It depends on the individual case for many reasons, but we will give a general guide here.
Accident at work claims* must be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment. On average, claims made to PIAB are assessed within 9 months from the date the Board notifies the party who the claim is taken against.
If the case is dealt with and concluded at this point to the satisfaction of the parties, the entire timeframe could be 9 months to one year. If the matter is not dealt with by the Injuries Board, the injured party may have the option of proceeding to court to seek a Judgement from the court.
Some factors that may affect how long a case takes include:
- Once an application has been made to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, it usually takes between 9 months to 1 year before it is concluded.
- If one of the parties does not agree to the Injuries Board making an assessment, the matter can proceed to court.
- If an assessment sum is not agreed to by one party, the matter can proceed to court.
- How long will the court case process take depends on various factors, such as, is the case straightforward for complex ?.
- Is there one injury or multiple injuries ?.
- What is the attitude of the defendant to the case ?.
- Has liability been admitted or is it contested ?.
- Has the injury stabilised ?.
- Has the treatment concluded ?. Has the injured parties doctors recommended further treatment ?. Detail of the further treatment is then required.
- What number of experts reports are required ?.
- Is it easy or difficult to obtain expert reports ?.
- Is it easy or difficult to obtain medical records ?.
- Have the legal pleadings concluded. In the High Court the defence must be provided to the injured parties solicitor within 8 weeks from the time the summons is served. This is not a long time, and in personal injury* cases one must proceed step by step in conjunction with the guidance of the doctor(s) assisting the injured party. Medical care can take time, recovery can take time, and guidance from the doctor and the patients thoughts on their own rehabilitation are important considerations in terms of assessing controlling the speed of a case.
If you are the cause of your own injury and no negligence arises, then in our opinion, it is imprudent to commence such an action.
If an employee does not report an accident to an employer, and subsequently decides to take a case, this can be problematic for the employee when the question is asked as to why it was not reported.
Employers should have Accident Report Forms which can be completed and the employer should be notified also with any means possible.
The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Regulations 2016 require reporting of accidents and record keeping in certain circumstances such as:
- Where an employee dies as a result of an accident at their place of work or in the course of carrying out their work in a location other than their normal place of work;
- an employee, as a result of an accident at their place of work or in the course of carrying out their work in a location other than their normal place of work, is prevented from performing their normal work for more than 3 consecutive days, excluding the day of the accident but including any days which would not have been working days;
- an employee dies within one year as a result of an accident at their place of work or in the course of carrying out their work in a location other than their normal place of work;
- any person who is not at work but who as a result of an accident related to a place of work or a work activity dies, within one year of the accident;
- any person who is not at work but who as a result of an accident related to a place of work or a work activity suffers any injury or condition which, due to the nature or severity of the injury or condition, results in the person being taken from the location of the accident to receive treatment in respect of that injury in a hospital or medical facility, or
- there is a dangerous occurrence.
Can a job (employer) fire you for getting injured ?
The Unfair Dismissals Acts govern this area of the law and if you are injured and operating under a disability, an employer who terminates the employment of an injured employee, may contravene the Equality Acts in addition to possibly contravening the unfair dismissals legislation.
What are the accident reporting procedures ?
Different employers may have different reporting procedures as some places of employment evidently operate under a higher risk of accidents occuring than others.
Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.
Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article
In contentious business, a Solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.