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Faulty Door Swings Open To Injured Victim’s Injury Claim

17th December 2013
In factories, workshops and offices across the land there’s always likely to be one or even two “bits of equipment” either not working properly or have parts missing but are still used every day. Managers know about them, but nothing gets fixed and employees have learned to just work around the problem and “just get on with it.”

Unfortunately, not every single employee may be aware of a fault ( or told about it) and how they should work with the equipment so they can avoid an accident or injury. One of the most common of accident claims for a serious injury suffered, such as a trapped hand or crushed foot, is the inevitable consequences of unguarded machinery combined with negligent work practices, lack of risk assessment, training and supervision.

Employees keep quiet...

A majority of injury compensation cases that come to court tend to involve small firms whose negligence in specific health and safety issues, such as a broken machine guard ( seen by some employers as a minor inconvenience), has come to be accepted by a workforce who “keep quiet” rather than risk losing their job. The current economic climate is likely to have aggravated matters with companies trying to cut costs wherever they can and employees fearing redundancy.

Unfortunately, an equipment fault may not be so evident and can be easily overlooked, even in large national or global companies, where systems of health and safety compliance are more likely to be in place.

Long standing fault...

In a recent case, a multinational consumer goods company was found to be negligent. A longstanding failure to repair an electrical fault caused a guard door to suddenly swing open and deliver a sharp, wounding blow to the knee of an employee stood directly in front of assembly line equipment.

The subsequent investigation found that employees working on the same production line were aware of the fault and knew from experience to stand back from the machinery. Unfortunately, the injured assembly line worker had not been warned of the hazard by the company (nor it seems, by his co-workers).

Despite five weeks away from work, and a course of steroid injections and physiotherapy the impact of the injury has since left the victim with reccurring inflammation of the leg tendons.

Fixed guards...

Following the accident, for which the worker received £5,000 in compensation, the company finally attended to the fault and secured bolts on the guard door to keep permanently closed and prevent a further accident from taking place.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) state that fixed guards, secured with screws or nuts and bolts should be installed to enclose all dangerous parts, whenever practical. HSE also advise that risk assessments should be constantly maintained and any remaining risk controlled by “providing the operator with the necessary information, instruction, training, supervision and appropriate safety equipment.”

Click here to read more about ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)’ at the HSE website.