All employees in Ireland have the right to work in safe conditions. The onus is on employers to take all appropriate measures to remove hazards and prevent threatening conditions. Unfortunately many employees, even those not working high-risk occupations find themselves victim to personal injury from an assault at work.

The first question you might ask if you have been assaulted at work is; what are my rights?  

In this guide, we will discuss what to do if you are assaulted at work in Ireland as well as your legal rights and options.

How do I know if I have been assaulted at work? 

The term “assault” is a broad one, and covers quite a lot of situations. It can be hard to know exactly what you are experiencing in some cases, especially if it’s been happening for some time. Assault at work can take the form of physical assault; verbal assault; harassment; bullying; discrimination and intimidation. The Health and Safety Authority  HSA defines violence in the workplace as any event  “where people in the course of their employment are aggressively verbally abused, threatened or physically assaulted”. No matter how minor you may think this event is, if you have suffered physical or mental effects from a situation or been subjected to a threatening situation that could have been avoided, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Who is liable for an assault in the workplace? 

Liability for workplace assault is a complicated issue. It’s not always clear who is liable for an assault in the workplace, as there are several parties that could be accountable. Some common examples of those parties include:

  • The employer: Your employer may be liable if the assault happened because of the employer’s negligence or failure to properly train employees on safety procedures or policies, or if they failed to follow safety measures. These measures include installing security cameras, providing employees with the appropriate PPE, and implementing policies and procedures to reduce the risk of  exposure  to workplace violence. 
  • Other employees: If another employee was negligent in their duties and caused you harm, or if you have been assaulted at work by a colleague then they could potentially be accountable for your assault. 
  • Patient/customer/member of the public: Oftentimes, the perpetrator of the assault holds full liability. In the case that your employer failed to protect you against the perpetrator by not following HSA guidelines, then liability might lie with both your employer and the assailant. 
  • Third party contractors: If your assailant was hired by a third party contractor working onsite, then both this contractor and whoever hired them could potentially be held accountable.

What to do if I have been assaulted at work?  

The first thing to do is make sure that you are in a safe place. If the perpetrator of the assault has left the scene but could still pose a threat, it may be best to call the police before trying to confront them yourself. If not, contact your employer immediately and ask for help or advice on what action should be taken next. Below are some guidelines on what to after an assault at work, once you are safe: 

  • Report the assault to your employer.
  • Get medical treatment as soon as possible.
  • Report your assault to an Garda Síochána. If you want to press charges for an assault at work, you should report the incident to the authorities as soon as possible.
  • Consider legal action. If you decide to take legal action, it’s best if you talk with a personal injury solicitor about it before moving forward—this way, they can advise you on what steps are best for your specific situation and provide guidance. 

You may want to consider reporting the incident  to other organisations too, depending on your situation. These may include: 

  • The Health and Safety Authority. They will investigate whether there were any health and safety breaches involved with the assault.
  • The Labour Relations Commission. If you are an employee of a large company or organisation in Ireland, they can deal with disputes between employees and employers including claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.
  • The Equality Authority. if your employer is large enough – 250 employees or more – they have an obligation under equality law not only not discriminate but also eliminate discrimination against people who work for them; so if this applies then reporting an assault could result in action being taken by this body against your employer.

Am I entitled to compensation after an incident of assault in the workplace? 

If you fall victim to an assault at work, there are a wide range of situations that could entitle you to compensation. Common reasons for employees being compensated include: 

  • Lost wages- If you require time off work to physically or mentally recover from an assault, you may receive redress for the losses incurred. Also in the case that you’re assaulted at work and fired, you could be entitled to compensation for lost wages, other expenses related to your injury, and for punitive damage from your employer. 
  • Medical costs- You may be compensated for any bills associated with an injury incurred from being assaulted at work
  • Pain and suffering- Recovering from a violent attack or case of harassment can be physically and mentally damaging. Depending on the extremity of the event and the injuries incurred, you might be eligible for compensation on the basis of pain and suffering. 

Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Ireland 

If you have been threatened or assaulted at work, Baxter Mimnagh personal injury lawyers can help. Contact us today for confidential and understanding support and guidance with your case. 

Accidents at work

If you require any more information concerning accidents at work, read more here.