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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Republic of Ireland Law
Satisfied Customers: 10953
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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A work colleague had an accident at work on a Monday and only

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A work colleague had an accident at work on a Monday and only reported it to the health and safety officer at work on the Friday .The health and safety officer failed to document this accident in an accident at work report and he failed to carry out an investigation at work. My work colleague who had the accident then took sick leave and returned to work on the Monday nine days later.The health and safety officer failed to notify the Health and Safety Authority about this sick leave being taken as a result of the accident and he did not send an IR1 form to them. My work colleague worked for another two weeks . He then took annual leave and died on the Thursday the following week. His injury at work involved a cage full of " junk mail ' falling down on top of him when he was pulling the cage off a foot high platform. Unfortunately , one of the wheels locked just as he was pulling the cage off the platform . He managed to get out from under the cage but he suffered severe bruising to his upper legs along with unknown internal injuries. His death came about when he suffered a blood clot and died of a heart attack at home in the fifth week following this accident . The health and safety officer in my workplace failed to contact the police to explain that this work accident to my work colleague could have contributed to his death. The health and safety officer in work is now saying that my work colleague who died did not report this accident . As safety representative in this workplace I became aware of this accident on the Friday following the accident and it was myself that brought this accident to the health and safety officer's attention. My work colleague who suffered this accident explained how the accident happened whilst I was stood beside him and he pulled his trousers down to show the severe bruising on his upper legs to the health and safety officer. The health and safety officer expressed his alarm but then walked away and carried on his business. What should I do now ?

Buachaill :

1. At the outset, you need to realise that once this man died, all potential legal claims for compensation died with him. So whilst his estate can potentially sue for the five weeks injuries, because the man is dead and cannot speak for himself, little or no damages will result, as courts do not believe in giving a windfall to dead people or their estates. So you should judge your next action in the light of this basic legal fact. His estate might potentially have a claim for wrongful death against the employer but given he died of a heart attack, there would have to be clear evidence that his death was actually caused by the accident before recovery could be made. Be aware that the damages for wrongful death by relatives have a statutory cap in Ireland.

Buachaill :

2. You can report the wrongful actions of the work Health & Safety officer to the HSA. They can issue a direction that the injury be properly noted in the work records, on the correct date. Additionally, they can penalise the employer for this default. Disciplinary proceedings can be initiated by the employer against the Health & Safety officer on this basis. Be aware that there is no obligation on the Health & Safety officer to report the accident or the outcome to the Gardai or police.

Buachaill :

3. So you should make a complaint to the HSA and formally start the grievance procedure at work on behalf of your dead colleague.

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