1010 Brazilian superior labour court and the responsibility of the employer for accident or occupational disease: preventive and reparatory actions

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Abstract

Introduction

Brazil developed regulatory system and institutional structure to protect workers health and safety in the workplace. However, acidentes and diseases ocurrences remain high and great distance exists between legislation and voluntary law compliance. Brazilian laws provide procedural instruments to compensate the damage caused to workers health and to prevent future injuries. This survey verified how Brazilian Labour Judiciary are judging the actions regarding the companies liability in diseases and accidents at work, including the convictions values.

Methods

Decisions published in 2015 that judged work-related accidents and diseases (individual and collective actions) were analysed consulting online Brazilian Superior Labour Court (TST) jurisprudence database. Data categorization was done considering the result (court application rejected or accepted), reasoning used by the judges and the compensation amount.

Result

Labour High Court issued 2 31 799 decisions in 2015, with 6.76% about work accidents and 0.12% on collective action and work accidents. The processes have been filed by Labour Prosecutor (83%) and Unions (17%). The compensation for collective moral damage had average of US$73 530. In individual reparatory actions, the employer had to compensate for worker health damage in 90% of cases, with high degree of sentences reformed (41% to increase/deny and 4% to extinguish/reduce arbitrated values). The values arbitrated were between US$65 000 and US$1 32 000 (fatal acidentes) and US$4400 to US$53 000 (occupational diseases and other acidentes).

Discussion

Although collective actions are little used, the labour judicial system provides the preventive protection requested: all judgments analysed granted compensation for collective moral damage and/or obligation to make changes to improve prevention and safety. The values of convictions arbitrated in collective actions are significant and indicate social and economic repercussions, stimulating employers to improve their companies working environment conditions. It is necessary to intensify the use of collective actions, because they are more efficient for prevention than reparatory individual lawsuits.

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