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Who is at fault

Every worker has the right to work in a safe environment, just as every employer has a duty of care to their workers.

Your employer’s duty of care goes beyond the main workplace. This means your employer needs to take reasonable steps to ensure your safety wherever they've asked you to work, whether it's your main workplace or another location.

Your employer must provide (in a reasonable and practical sense):

  • a safe place to work
  • a safe system of work
  • reasonable and appropriate work duties
  • equipment that's in good working order
  • adequate training and instructions.

All of these things help you work safely. But, if an injury happens at work, how do you know if it’s because your employer has breached their duty of care?

To be successful in a common law claim, workers must show that their employer hasn’t provided a safe work environment (breached their duty of care). They must also prove this caused the injury. This is known as 'fault'.

Proving a work environment is unsafe

Proving that your employer hasn't provided a safe work environment can be a complex and detailed process. Some things a court of law could consider include (but are not limited to):

  • Was machinery in working order?
  • Were policies and procedures followed?
  • Did you have adequate training, instruction and supervision?
  • Did your employer identify a foreseeable risk of injury for a manual task?

Support with an apology

A workplace injury can be a distressing, or even traumatising, experience for those involved. This can especially be the case if there’s a feeling that it’s someone’s fault.

We encourage open and supportive communication between workers and employers. Employers can support workers by offering a genuine and caring apology or expression of regret. No matter how the injury happened, this isn't an admission of fault.

Contributory negligence

If you're injured in the workplace, we may consider whether you contributed to your injury happening in some way. The legal term for this is called contributory negligence. If proven, this may impact the amount of damages that are paid.