When you think of common workplace injuries, you will most likely think of injuries that arise from slips and trips, or falls, or perhaps injuries resulting from accidents in industries that require manual labour. However, it would be a surprise to most people to hear that one of the leading causes of workplace injuries arise out of workplace vehicle incidents.
Vehicles on public roads during the week are far more likely to be driven by someone in a work capacity than for general personal usage. Many workplace environments utilise motor vehicles when carrying out their business, including industries such as agriculture, forestry, construction, manufacturing, transport, and storage. Extra care needs to be taken by employers and managers, particularly in these types of industries, to ensure the health and safety of employees when driving. It is also essential that comprehensive procedures and policies are in place in the event that an injury does occur.
Vehicles such as passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, or heavy-duty vehicles are often used in workplace environments, and present an identifiable occupational hazard. Specialised vehicles may be associated with industries such as the farming and construction industries, and would include vehicles such as cranes, tractors, and other similar machinery.
Regrettably, even the most diligent of employers cannot prevent a workplace vehicle accident and any significant injury arising out of it. Studies have identified that around 35.9% of all occupational fatalities in Australia involved injury as a result of a motor vehicle crash on a public road. Work based company drivers were 49% more likely to be involved in crashes than the general public.
The consequences of a workplace vehicle accident can be far reaching and significant. It may impact upon the ability to work and career development, which in turn may have an effect on the ability to earn income. It may also impact relationships at work and at home, and will inevitably create an undue emotional and financial strain on everyone involved.
So what are the most common workplace vehicle injuries? Sadly, the more serious injuries arise as a result of workplace vehicle accidents, including fatalities. In 2009-2010, after a study was conducted on workers, it was learnt that 23 of the worker traumatic injury fatalities involved a vehicle. In terms of specific industry fatalities, in the farming industry for example, incidents involving vehicles accounted for 71% of fatalities on farms, such as tractors. Another example includes the transport and storage industry, where in 2010-2011 almost two-thirds of the compensated fatalities were due to vehicle accidents. This industry had the highest number of fatalities in five of the seven years studied between 2003 and 2011.
Other than fatalities, motor vehicle accidents can cause quite significant injuries, including permanent and life-changing or debilitating injuries. These injuries may not simply be physical, but could also have a long-term effect on the worker’s mental capabilities. It is usually only as a matter of fortune that a workplace vehicle injury will be a minor one.
No reasonable person would want to experience an injury at work. Whether you are an employer or an employee, a workplace injury will affect both of you. It affects the business, as a trained member of staff having to take off time from work and possibly be replaced in the interim strains the way business is carried out. The injury can also impact upon relationships with work colleagues or between the injured worker and management.
No matter how much this type of occurrence is sought to be avoided, it can, does, and will occur. It’s important that when it does occur, you have the right legal advice and representation, as an employer or an employee. A compensation lawyer has the expertise to focus on the complex legal issues arising out of the workplace injury. This may leave you the space and time to focus on recovery (to your business or your health).
Due to the usually debilitating nature of an injury arising out of a workplace vehicle accident, it can be even more important to ensure you have the professional advice as to your rights. There are many aspects of your life that workers compensation may cover, and with the proper legal advice from lawyers experienced in workplace injuries you can be confident every aspect of your matter will be considered.