Workplace accidents are a costly fact of commercial life for any business. There is a thriving health and safety training sector out there that educates employers and their employees in the prevention of workplace accidents. Every year there are many workplace accidents, from the very minor, to fatal accidents.
A work place accident can wreck havoc on the lives of all involved and can seriously disrupt the continued viability of any business.
Fault and liability in Court for a workplace accident will jeopardise the actual viability of a business. A workplace accident will result in a massive employers public liability insurance loading. What many employers and companies fail to realise is that in the fallout from a work place accident, the Health and Safety Authority may be called in to commence an investigation. The investigation can use the Civil and the Criminal law. This investigation has the potential to criminalise the company and its directors. Company Directors can potentially end up being asked to provide statements in a criminal investigation that may incriminate them, the company and their employees. The Health and Safety Inspectors have wide and far reaching legal powers and an accident may lead to a criminal investigation (they won’t even tell you they are investigating a crime scene) and even an arrest and detention in a Garda Station may follow, as happened to a County Manger recently. Never, ever speak to a Garda in a Garda Station without advice from a Court Solicitor or Solicitors who provide advice at a Garda Station. How crazy is it then, that in my experience companies and their Directors, often do not avail of legal advice at the time of a work place accident and wait and do nothing until they find themselves summonsed to appear in the District Court or the Circuit Criminal Court in serious cases (prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines up to 2 million per indictment). It’s too late to limit the legal and financial damage then. Post work place accident employers , employees will freely speak to the Health and Safety Inspectors in a spirit of complete frankness and co-operation without realising that their actions may result in them incriminating themselves.
Most health and safety prosecutions are strict liability offences, that means available defences are limited. It is absolutely essential that legal advice is sought from a Court Solicitor or Criminal Defence Solicitor as soon as possible. One just has to look at the prosecution figures from the Health and Safety Authority (their website http://www.hsa.ie/) to see that work place accidents are not just an insurance issue, but a criminal law issue.
Fast and expert criminal legal advice is a must in any work related accident, as not only is the injured employee likely to make a claim for damages he or she (or their family) may rightly request an Investigation by the HSA.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail …….!
This blog is not cast iron legal advice if you want that pick up the phone and call Peter Connolly Court Solicitor . I specialise in crisis avoidance, management and limitation