Month: November 2013

Steep Rise in Compensation Claims for Burns and Scalds at Work

The Injuries Board has released figures which show a steep rise in compensation claims for burns and scalds at work between 2011 and 2012.

Stephen Watkins – the Director of Corporate Services at the Injuries Board – has published a press release on the Injuries Board website in which he describes the increase in compensation claims for burns and scalds at work as “worrying”.

He points to figures from 2011 and 2012 in which the number of accepted Injuries Board assessments in relation to burns and scalds in the workplace rose from twenty-eight to forty-two, with a total assessment value of €1.33 million and an average compensation award of €19,066.

Mr Watkins describes the various ways in which workers can sustain burns and scalds at work, and listed the most frequent reasons for applications being submitted to the Injuries Board:

  • Boiling water overflowing
  • Splashes from hot liquids and sauces
  • Chemical and acid burns
  • Items of clothing catching fire
  • Scalds from faulty electrical equipment

The highest individual award over the two-year period was €106,949 – relating to burns sustained in an acid spill – but Mr Watkins commented that the highest number of compensation claims for burns and scalds at work were made by plaintiffs working in the catering trade and in cleaning.

It was also highlighted that something as simple as making a hot drink could result in an injury at work, and Mr Watkins urged both employers and employees to be aware of safety precautions when in the presence of any substance or equipment that could result in a painful burn injury.

In 2012, the Health and Safety Authority´s “Summary of Workplace Injuries” showed that female employees are three times more likely than their male counterparts to sustain burns and scalds in the workplace, due to the higher percentage of females employed in catering and cleaning.

It should also not be overlooked that, in 2012, the percentage of accepted Injuries Board assessments fell from 37.2 percent to 32.7 percent – indicating that there may have been a further 100 compensation claims for burns and scalds at work which were resolved outside of the Injuries Board process.

HSA Chief Comments on Injury Claims for Slips and Falls at Work

The Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – Martin O´Halloran – has commented on figures released by the Injuries Board relating to injury claims for slip and falls at work.

To coincide with the European Week for Safety and Health at Work earlier this month, the Injuries Board released figures which showed that a third of all workplace-related assessments in 2012 were attributable to injury claims for slips and falls at work.

The total value of the accepted assessments for workplace injuries amounted to €22 million and Mr O´Halloran said that employers should use the European Week for Safety and Health at Work to reflect on the safety systems they have in place and not leave anything to chance.

Although acknowledging that employees often take less care at work because they are aware that employers have responsibility for their health and safety, Mr O´Halloran revealed that a quarter of workplaces inspected by the HSA in 2012 had not carried out a risk assessment to identify where slips and falls at work might occur.

Commenting on the cost to industry of injury claims for slips and falls at work, Mr O´Halloran said “Effective management of workplace safety and health not only protects workers from injury and ill-health, but also has the potential to save businesses thousands of Euros. Proper management of workplace safety and health contributes to long-term commercial success and profitability”.

Further statistics were reported on by the Injuries Board in their press release, and these included:

· The average accepted assessment of injury compensation for a workplace accident was €27,286.
· Male workers are twice as likely to sustain a workplace injury as female workers (in all workplace accidents)
· The highest number of injury claims for slips and falls at work were made by workers in the 25 to 34 age group
· One fifth of the accepted assessments of injuries caused by a slip and fall at work were for accidents which resulted in the plaintiff taking more than one month to recover from their injuries.

Court Finds Couple Negligent in Dog Bite Injury Claim for Compensation

The High Court has found a Kilbeggan couple negligent in a dog bite injury claim for compensation brought against them by their postman.

Joseph Dunne (63), also from Kilbeggan in County Westmeath, was delivering letters to the home of  Olive Dalton and Martin Maher of Dublin Road, Kilbeggan when, on 8th October 2008, the couple´s husky-type dog escaped from their garden through a hole in the hedge and attacked him.

Joseph was knocked to the floor by the dog, and endured a terrifying attack while the dog continued to claw and bite him. Fortunately a passer-by was able to halt the attack by striking the dog across the back with a stick and an ambulance was called to take Joseph to hospital.

At the hospital, Joseph received twenty-two stitches for lacerations to the right side of his face and received treatment for nerve damage to the right side of his forehead. When the stitches were removed, it was necessary for Joseph to undergo plastic surgery to disguise his scars.

After seeking legal advice from a solicitor, Joseph made a dog bite injury claim for compensation against Ms Dalton and Mr Maher – alleging that they had been negligent in failing to enclose their garden securely and for not informing An Post of the potential dangers of delivering post to the property.

The couple denied their liability for Joseph´s injuries and the case went to the High Court in Dublin, where Mr Justice Michael Moriarty was told that the dog had been put down on the day following the attack.

After hearing evidence from both parties, the judge found in Joseph´s favour, and awarded him €55,000 in settlement of his dog bite injury claim for compensation – commenting that Joseph had been brave to return to work so soon after what must have been a particularly frightening event.