Several work environments, most notably factories, warehouses, construction sites etc. are tasked with much manual handling of heavy objects and materials. Heavy objects are carried, lifted, pulled, dragged with force and activities of this nature carry risks of injury and legal safety obligations on employers exist as a result.
What are common factors that contribute to Manual Handling Injury* Claims arising ?
- Employers requiring employees to handle unsafe loads.
- Employers providing inappropriate or minimal training for manual handling of heavy object lifting.
- Employers requiring employees to engage in manual handling in a small confined workplace which has an unsafe design for the task.
- Employers providing inadequate or inappropriate equipment for performing a specific task.
- Employers requiring employees to work without rest periods and an employee is tired and an accident occurs with another being injured.
Employer Responsibilities – Workplace
The responsibilities and duties of the employer is a legal necessity under the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. Some of the general responsibilities employers have in the workplace are listed below;
- Employers must arrange and manage work activities to avoid foreseeable accidents. This is an active and not passive duty.
- Employers have general duties in ensuring the safety and health at the workplace of staff.
- Company plants and machinery must be designed and maintained to avoid risks of injury. In many circumstances machinery wears out and is not maintained which leads to problems.
- Provide protective gear and equipment to employees.
- Provide training, instructions, information and supervision of manual handling procedures.
- Employers should prevent any work activities that endangers employees.
Are Employees entitled to rest periods at the workplace?
Yes, according to the Organization of Working Time Act of 1997, employers must provide time for employees to have breaks for resting at work. This is even more important to implement in physically demanding jobs. Work rest periods must be provided such as;
- Workers are entitled to an everyday break duration of 11 hours within 24 hours of working days.
- Rest intervals while working should be 15 minutes to 30 minutes after working for 4 hours and 6 hours, respectively, to ensure employees have a break.
- Employees are entitled 24 hours of rest within seven days of working days.
Employee Responsibilities – Workplace
According to the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 employees also have duties while at work such as;
- Employees should ensure they are not under the influence of any drug or alcohol.
- Employees should take reasonable care to look after their own safety.
- Not partake in dangerous activities that endanger oneself or others.
- Attend training seasons and partake in an employer assessment regarding safety measures.
At the workplace, the employer must identify workplace hazards that could can cause an injury. Employers are duty bound to have a Risk Assessment conducted which identifies workplace risks and then an employer must take the steps to implement any improvement considered necessary. It is the implementation of appropriate measures where many employers fall short on in these matters.
An employer is legally obligated to provide training to employees to reduce risks of injury at the workplace.
Manual handling injuries at work account for approximately a third of workplace accidents that arise. Many back injuries arise from physically demanding jobs and lifting heavy objects etc. must be done in the correct way and training provided. Workplace training is a legal requirement which should provide guidance with lifting, pulling, lowering, picking etc. to avoid risk of preventable injury.
This is where the injured party termed as a plaintiff seeks financial compensation from the party who was responsible for the accident.
In Ireland, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) provides individual assessment for injury claims and can award compensation. In case the defendant declines the Injuries Board assessment, you can proceed to court to seek a legal remedy.
No. The Injuries board will determine your claim without examining the evidence or deciding upon liability. It will assess the claim with the medical evidence to hand and the financial loss particulars of the applicant.
No. The Injuries Board is not a Court and does not have this function.
Time Limits for Personal Injury* Claims
Manual handling injury* claims must be initiated within two years of the date of the accident. A claim must be registered one day within the 2 year time limit.
In the case of industrial diseases like mesothelioma, the time limit due to the nature of illness is different and the clock begins from the date of the diagnosis.
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.
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