Accident at work – Definition of an accident

An accident means a sudden, unpredictable incident caused by an external factor and leading to an injury or illness.

  • Unpredictable means that the incident is beyond the control of the employee, i.e. unexpected and unlooked for from the perspective of the concerned person. If an employee deliberately injures herself, it is not an accident.
  • Sudden means that the incident is rapid and immediate (such as a trip, a fall or a crash).
  • An external factor means a factor independent of the injured person that causes the accident, such as a slippery street, a pothole, an object falling on top of a person or a sharp object grabbed accidentally. 

An accident at work takes place at work or in circumstances arising from work

Only accidents that occur at work – that is, when one is working – or in circumstances arising from work are accidents at work. Circumstances arising from work mean various situations that do not belong to the actual job. This means that an accident is only compensated if it takes place at work, in an area belonging to the place of work, on the way to or from work or when the employee has been sent by the employer to perform a certain task. 

Assault

Similarly, an injury or illness due to an assault or other deliberate action by another person at work or in circumstances arising from work is also compensated as an accident. An accident at work that has occurred at war or armed conflict shall also be compensated. 

Certain injuries and illnesses comparable to work-related injuries

In addition to the actual accident, injuries and illnesses that have occurred within a short period of time not exceeding 24 hours and are not compensated as occupational diseases are compensated as accidents at work. These include:

  • sores or abrasions,
  • injuries caused by corrosive substances,
  • injuries caused by breathing gases dangerous to health,
  • injuries caused by significant variations in air pressure,
  • frostbites, sunstrokes or other similar injuries caused by abnormal temperature,
  • inflammations of elbow or patella caused by continuous or repeated pressure or compression exceptional to an employee, and
  • sore muscles or sinews caused by a working movement and not due to other defect, injury or illness.
Modified 04.12.2015