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Your guide to accidents at work

Construction worker holding hard hat - accidents and work

When an accident does happen, it can often mean weeks or months off work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that in 2012/13, 28.2 million working days were lost due to work related illness and injury, costing £14.2 billion in injuries and ill health due to current working conditions.

These injuries may need intensive hospital treatment and rehabilitation.  In some cases, an accident can result in life-changing injuries, which can affect your ability to return to work or do the same type of job in the future.

The place where you work should always be a safe environment, whether it’s an office, a store, factory, warehouse or building site.

Your employer has a responsibility to protect all employees, contractors and temporary site visitors from accidents and injuries. The potential risks of a serious or fatal injury are always increased when unsafe conditions are ignored or faulty equipment neglected.

Your Legal Friend has an in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation and over 30 years of experience in successfully managing workplace compensation claims. We can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you make your case and secure the best possible settlement. 

Statistics - Accidents at Work, 2013/14

  • 629,000 injuries occurred at work, of which 148,000 led to over 7days absence.           (Labour Force Survey – ONS latest available data, 2013/14)
  • 77,593 other non-fatal injuries reported, of which the most common accidents were caused by:
    • Slips and trips – 28%
    • Handling, lifting or carrying  - 24%
    • Being struck by moving objects  - 10%
  • 142 workers were killed at work          (RIDDOR - Health and Safety Statistics Annual Report, 2013/14)

Employers’ Responsibilities

An employer has a legal responsibility to all employees, contractors and visitors in the workplace. They must provide a ‘duty of care’ to the workforce, including:

  • A safe work environment that is clean and free from hazards
  • Risk assessments for set work and special tasks to all those who could be affected by the activities
  • Effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of preventive and protective measures
  • The necessary machinery and tools to complete required tasks
  • Machinery, equipment and tools maintained to the required safety standards
  • Adequate training
  • Personal protection equipment (PPE) and safety wear
  • A written health and safety policy if five or more people are employed

Employers Liability insurance: Employers are obliged by law to have valid Employers Liability insurance in place to cover claims by employees for any accidents and injuries.  If you make a compensation claim for an injury at work, your claim is made against Employers Liability insurance policy, rather than against your employer directly, so it is your employer’s insurance company that pays the compensation.

Employers’ Duty of Care

An employer owes you a duty of care if you are:

  • Employed by the company
  • Carrying out a regular employment activity at the time your injury occurred
  • Injured on your employer's premises

An employer can be considered to have breached the ‘duty of care’ owed to you as an employee if they failed to do everything that was reasonable in the circumstances to keep you safe from harm.

As an employee, you are also entitled by law to refuse to carry out work which is not safe, and potentially a risk to your health and wellbeing, without fear of disciplinary action.

Workplace Regulations

There are many statutory health and safety regulations, which cover each and every aspect of operations in the workplace.  These regulations are intended to prevent the risk of an accident or injury happening to you while you are at work.

The key item of legislation aimed at protecting you is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  Under this Act, “employers have a duty to their employees to provide a safe-working environment in a ‘reasonably practicable’ manner…”

The HSWA does not, in itself, create civil liability but it provided for the enactment of Health & Safety Regulations that do, unless stated otherwise within the Regulations themselves.  These regulations became known as the ‘six pack’ regulations which implemented various European Directives in respect of health and safety at work. 

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

This new and important piece of legislation was introduced on 1st October 2013, and its introduction now means that employees injured during the course of their work will only be able to pursue claims based on common law negligence, rather than relying upon breaches to the regulations above.

The law in relation to accidents at work has become complex and demanding, and it is important that you always ensure that you take the best legal advice from specialist, personal injury solicitors with extensive experience of managing cases relating to accidents at work. 

Proving who is at fault for your accident

There are three parts to proving fault when claiming for personal injury in the workplace:

1       Breach of duty

Once it has been established that the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care because, for example, the claimant was employed at the company, the claimant must also demonstrate that the defendant was in breach of duty.

For example, a judge may decide that there is a breach of duty if the defendant employer failed to meet the legally required standard of care. 

A breach of legal duty is basically a matter for the relevant enforcement authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  This breach could be the basis for possible criminal liability and is also relevant in civil cases.

2       Negligence

An employer may be found to be negligent if they:

  • Failed to do something “a reasonable person would have done”, or 
  • Did something that “a reasonable and careful person would not have done.”

3       Causation

Causation is the direct link between the defendant’s negligence and the claimant’s loss and damage. So if the defendant is proved to be negligent, it is reasonable that the defendant should then compensate the claimant for the resulting loss and damage.

For a claim to be successful, a claimant will need to prove that:

  • Their injury happened as a result of negligence or a breach of duty
  • The injury was also a foreseeable result of the negligence or breach of duty in that the employer should reasonably have known that there was a risk of an accident or injury if they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it.

How Your Legal Friend can help you

As experienced personal injury specialists, we have over 30 years of experience in managing compensation cases involving accidents at work.  We are committed to guiding you through every step of the process and ensuring that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by specialist solicitors with a record of success in this field.

Our in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you succeed in making your claim.  We can:

  • work with you on a guaranteed no win, no fee basis
  • help you with medical treatment, rehabilitation and your return to work
  • ensure care and support services are available for the most serious injuries
  • advise you on how to claim for DWP benefits to help you along the way
  • skilfully manage your compensation claim to include:
    • payment for the pain and suffering caused by your injury
    • any financial losses you’ve incurred already, such as lost wages, travel and medical expenses
    • any expenses you may need in the future.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors, call us now on 0808 250 7438 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.