Occupational accident is stipulated by the Act No. 262/2006 Coll., Labour Code, as amended (hereinafter referred to as the "Labour Code"), as a damage to the health or death of employees if happened independently on their own will by short-term, sudden or violent influence of external factors only during at-work duties, or in direct connection with them.
In this regard injury caused to employees by a working tool can be considered as a typical occupational accident (direct at-work duties), but also for example employees´ injury when falling on slippery surface on their way to changing rooms after the shift’s end (activities needed for the work performance).
What is and what is not in direct connection with at-work duties is stipulated in Sections 273, 274 and 274a of the Labour Code.
Provision of Section 274(1) of the Labour Code states that in direct connection with at-work duties are activities needed for the work performance and usual or necessary at-work activities before the work start or after its end and usual activities during at-work break time for lunch or snack and relax taking place in the employer’s building. However, such activities are not commuting to and from work, having meals, medical examination and treatment at the provider of medical services, nor the way to get there and back if it doesn’t take place in the employer’s building.
According to Section 274a commuting to and from work means a way from the place of employee’s residence (accommodation) to the place of the entry to the employer’s building or to and from other specific places designated for performing at-work duties.
In this case determination of place where the occupational accident happened is entirely essential. For example, the case of an employee getting hurt when getting off the car in the parking lot which is not located on the employer’s premises will not be regarded as occupational accident. However, if the same situation happened during parking inside the employer’s premises (so called behind the gatehouse), this kind of accident can be considered as occupational. However, the "gatehouse" criterion cannot be applied in 100% of cases, mainly in places where the entrance point to the employer’s premises is not clearly defined. In such cases, the moment from which the employee is obliged to follow employer’s rules or the rules of a third entity securing the premises is determinative.
As showed on the example: if the employees approach employer’s manufacturing facility and are already on their way from the public road entering pedestrian zone which is designated for pedestrians (with respect to occupational health and safety), this moment marks the end of commutation to work and occupational accident might occur.
Then similar rules apply also for cases when employees suffer injury on their way to have meal. Injury in the canteen directly located at employer’s workplace (on employer’s premises) will be undoubtedly considered as an occupational accident. On the contrary, injury suffered in the restaurant, where the employee went during lunch break, will not be considered as occupational accident.