Despite the UK’s extensive health and safety legislation lots of people still suffer serious injury at their place of work.
The industries where accidents are statistically most likely to occur are manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing. However, accidents can happen in any working environment and an assistant director on the James Bond films was crushed on the set of Spectre. His injury has left him unable to work, and he is seeking £2.5 million in compensation for his suffering, medical costs and his future loss of earnings.
Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that the number of injuries in the workplace last year totalled over 70,000 and 137 workers tragically lost their lives.
Employers have a duty of care
‘Compliance with health and safety legislation should be a priority for any business owner’, says Lisa Waghorne, a personal injury solicitor with Pengelly & Rylands in Tenterden. ‘Failure to have correct procedures and protections in place could land those responsible in prison if workers are injured or killed as a result.’
Your employer has a statutory duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees and others who may be affected by their acts or omissions, and there is a comprehensive framework of legislation to protect workers.
For example, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to carry out risk assessments and provide employees with information and training on occupational health and safety. A written health and safety policy must also be provided. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 impose minimum safety standards in relation to lighting, heating, ventilation, workspaces, staff facilities and passageways.
However, accidents do happen in a wide range of circumstances such as:
· injuries caused by lack of training in regard to manual handling, lifting or carrying;
· slips, trips, falls caused by defective flooring or unmarked hazards;
· being struck by a moving object such as a forklift truck;
· falls from scaffolding and ladders; and injuries caused by machinery and power tools;
· burns, scalds, cold/freezing injuries;
· skin damage and allergic reactions to chemicals; and
· damage to eyesight from flying fragments.
What to do if you have been involved in an accident at work
If you have an accident in the workplace, you should:
· record the injury in the accident book;
· make sure your employer has reported it to the Health and Safety Executive;
· check your contract for information about sickness or accident pay;
· make your employer aware of your health and safety concerns;
· obtain details of any witnesses so that your solicitor can contact them later; and
· take photographs of any faulty equipment or accident damage.
Your right to compensation
Your employer may be reluctant to admit that they are legally at fault, so it is advisable to speak to a specialist personal injury solicitor about making your claim. Employers are required by law to have insurance that will cover them if an employee has an accident. This insurance is effective even if the company goes out of business, but it is important to get matters moving as soon as possible so that we can begin gathering the evidence before it is lost.
Accidents are often preceded by a history of similar incidents taking place. Staff concerns frequently go unheeded when they should act as a wake-up call for the employer. We will be able to obtain the documents relating to any similar incidents that have occurred, which is likely to be helpful in establishing that your employer is at fault.
Our solicitors are experienced in dealing with workplace accident cases and just one call will be enough to get your claim underway.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.