Reader asks: I was walking to work in the morning and the road was so slippery that I fell. Is an accident on the way to work an occupational accident?
Answered by Rein Reisberg, Working Environment Consultant of the Labour Inspectorate:
An occupational accident is considered damage to the health of an employee or death of an employee which occurred in the performance of a duty assigned by an employer or in other work performed with the employer’s permission, during a break included in the working time, or during other activity in the interests of the employer. Until 2003, this list also included damage to the health sustained on the way to work, but according to the currently valid legislation, an accident that occurred on the way to work is not considered an occupational accident.
A situation where an employee slips on the street and breaks their arm while walking from home to work or home from work, for example, is not considered an occupational accident. Health damage sustained while traveling from home to work by public transport or by car is also not considered an occupational accident.
At the same time, there are jobs that require you to move from one place to another, for example, mail-carrier, driver, street cleaner. In this case, the employee is performing their duties and an accident on the road is considered an occupational accident. Thus, situations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The following is also an example of an occupational accident. The employer and the employee have agreed that the work car will be parked at the employee's home, from where at the beginning of the working day they can drive directly from home (without going to the employer's office) to the customer. However, before reaching the customer, a traffic accident occurs as a result of which the employee suffers health damage.