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Employer liability for workplace trauma

D.A. Butler

Aldershot, Hants, Ashgate, 2002, 208 s. ISBN 0-75462287-8
Bogomtale fra forlaget.

This book offers an intriguing examination of the law concerning liability for psychiatric injury suffered by employees in the workplace. Included among these are employees confronting the risk of death or injury in the course of their normal employment, such as police or fire-fighters, those confronting death or injury out of their ordinary course of employment, such as accidents at work, and those possibly exposed to health-threatening circumstances, such as dust in the workplace. Also considered are employees who suffer mental health problems resulting from environmental factors, such as bullying, overwork and disciplinary measures. The amount of damages recovered in such actions can be substantial and this book examines the extent of the employer's liability, as well as provides a psychiatric medicine perspective and a detailed analysis of the current state of the law in England, Wales and Australia.
"Workplace trauma has important health and economic ramifications not only for the individuals who suffer them and their employers, but for the society in general. Yet there has been a dearth of scholarly analysis of compensation, both at common law and under statute, for psychiatric injury related to work. Des Butler's book has filled this gap. The book provides a comprehensive, yet easy to follow examination of legal and psychiatric issues relating to the liability of employers for the psychiatric harm suffered by their employees in the course of their employment in the UK and Australia. Against the background of the current knowledge and understandings in psychiatric medicine of issues relating to workplace trauma, Butler discusses the rights employees who suffer psychiatric injury under workers' compensation statutes. He also sets out the framework for an action for common law damages against employers for psychiatric injury sustained in the workplace. Butler highlights differences in the law as applied in Australia and England. He also examines the ways in which the duty of care that may arise by virtue of a statute; a contract of employment; under the employer's personal non-delegable duty of care to provide safe working conditions; and under the employer's vicarious liability for injury inflicted either intentionally or negligently by a fellow worker. Butler then focuses on specific areas that may give raise to compensation for psychiatric injury, namely: cases involving employees who have confronted the death, injury or peril of themselves or others, and cases involving what this book describes as “environmental stress,” including claims for psychiatric illness resulting from factors such as overwork, bullying or other untoward behaviour and dismissal or disciplinary action. Finally, very helpfully, Butler identifies potential ways that employers might seek to at least minimize their exposure to liability for the psychiatric injury suffered by employees. The book provides an invaluable resource for legal and medical practitioners involved in personal injury law, for academics and policy-makers working in the area of industrial relations, work and safety, as well as statutory and common law compensation." Dr Danuta Mendleson, School of Law, Deakin University Victoria, Australia
Author Biography: Dr Des Butler, Associate Professor of Law, Assistant Dean, Research, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia