If employees are suffering from work related fatigue your organisation could be held liable for any accidents or injuries that occur outside of the workplace. Recent case law demonstrates that workers compensation claims can be awarded even when injuries take place outside the workplace, if it can be proven the worker is likely to have suffered from work-related fatigue and that fatigue is the likely cause of the incident.
Identify the signs of fatigue
To avoid liability due to worker fatigue injuries, it is important to identify the signs of fatigue and take all reasonable steps to eliminate it. Take a look at our fatigue fact sheet below:
Case Law: $500,000 awarded for fatality caused by work related fatigue
Recent case Law
In Stephen and Leanne Ethel Eastman v Namoi Cotton Co-Operative Limited (2014) An employee died during her drive home after being required to work 12-hour shifts, 6 consecutive days with only 2 days off. Even though the accident happened outside of work hours and was in no way related to her work the family was awarded nearly $500,000 in workers’ compensation.
In making the decision the arbitrator noted that “employment does not have to be the only, or even the main cause” of the incident. It only needs to be a contributing factor.
Fatigue Management Plan
Ideally, companies should have appropriate Fatigue management plans in place. A fatigue management plan is a collective set of procedures and policies to help mimimise the risks of fatigue in the workplace. If you need help preparing one, click here to contact us we can assist.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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