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The construction and manufacturing industries in Ireland accounted for almost half of the workplace-injury compensation awards made last year, according to new figures released by the Irish Personal Injuries Assessment Board.
In total, €31.4 million (£28 million) was paid out in employers’ liability insurance claims in 2008 — an average of €32,000 (£28,700) per claim. Most of the injuries claimed for were sustained in a slip, trip, or fall incident, and three-quarters of all the awards were made to male workers. The construction sector accounted for 28 per cent of the awards, and the manufacturing sector for 20 per cent.
Commenting on the figures, Patricia Byron, chief executive of InjuriesBoard.ie (the operating name for the Personal Injuries Assessment Board), said: “This review of 2008 employer liability awards provides a valuable insight into workplace accidents in Ireland, and specifically highlights the most significant causes of accidents and those sectors most at risk.
“This data will assist health and safety professionals in their risk assessment and enable them to focus scarce resources on the most critical areas. Significant steps have been taken in recent years across the economy to improve health and safety in the workplace, but vigilance must be constant. Cutting down on investment in a safe workplace can be an expensive false economy.”
Martin O’Halloran, chief executive of the Irish Health and Safety Authority, added: “Unsurprisingly, the awards reflect the types of accidents and injuries we see in our inspection activity every day. These accidents are foreseeable and preventable and I urge all employers to ensure they have the appropriate safety, health and welfare measures in place. Apart from the legal duties all employers have, it’s always far more cost-effective to prevent an accident happening in the first place than to deal with the consequences afterwards.”
In the UK in 2008, the gross total of claims incurred under employers’ liability insurance was £1.3 billion. The payouts resulted in an underwriting loss of £200 million — according to the Association of British Insurers, the EL sector has only been in profit once in the last 10 years. According to a spokesperson for the ABI, this is due to increasing legal costs, which are disproportionate in terms of the amounts paid out, and the fact that, as in most sectors, investment returns are not as high as before.