Everyone agrees that it is important for all workers to be as safe as possible whilst carrying out their work duties. In the ACT there is legislation known as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 which sets out the obligations and responsibilities of all employers in terms of ensuring workplace health and safety.
Compliance with those obligations is overseen by WorkSafe ACT and breaches of the law in that regard lead to prosecution.
A separate issue arises for individual workers when they do suffer from injury. Those who are employed by a private (non-government) employer have rights which are set out in the Workers Compensation Act 1951. No matter how a worker is injured, that legislation provides for the payment of compensation if an injury leads to a need for medical treatment and also creates an incapacity for work. In other words, it does not matter if the injury occurred as a result of some failing on the part of the employer, workers compensation would be payable in any regard.
Similarly, those in government employment are covered by the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, which makes similar provisions in terms of benefits payable to workers.
If an injury to a worker occurs because there has been some breach of duty on the part of the employer, then an employee who is privately employed may have a right to bring a claim for damages associated with that breach of duty of care. Such damages go beyond the payments which would be available under the workers compensation legislation and, most importantly, would include an allowance for pain and suffering no matter how serious the injury is.
The mere fact that an employer has breached the obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act, for example, would not necessarily mean that the employer had been negligent and indeed a breach of such legislation would not, in itself, give rise to a right to claim common law damages. It is, however, very likely that any failings on the part of the employer in terms of ensuring a safe workplace or work system, would be strong evidence of such a breach of duty.
It is important for those who are injured during the course of their work to seek advice about the options available as time limits do apply to some of the available claims. We all hope that injuries do not occur at all, but if they do, it is important that proper advice is available as to the options for compensation.
How can we help?
Contact our experience Personal Injury team at Snedden Hall & Gallop to see how we can assist you with your matter on 02 6285 8000 or by email.