Accident at Work Claims
It’s not just high risk work places such as construction sites and factories where accidents at work can happen to employees. They happen in every workplace to every type of employee.
They can happen to people working in shops, schools, offices and pretty much everywhere a person is employed.
This is something that we fully understand at Personal Injury Solicitors Manchester and by seeking advice from us, you are seeking advice from specialists in the field of Accidents at Work.
In acknowledgement of the fact that accidents at work can happen to anyone, workplace legislation in England and Wales offers protection to all employees, and employers are under a statutory duty of care to ensure the safety of the people who work for them.
This is commonly referred to as “Health and Safety Law”. (Read more on Employment Law by ESM here).
The starting point for health and safety law in England and Wales is set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (“the Act”). This is the primary piece of legislation covering the safety of people in employment. At Section 2(1) of the Act it states:
“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all of [its] employees.”
But making a compensation claim because of a personal injury suffered through an accident at work is not that simple…
An employer’s duty to protect its employees under the Act and other secondary legislation known as the Health and Safety Regulations (“ the Regulations”) is not absolute. What an employer has to do is guided by the principle of what is “reasonably practicable”, which means it does not have to take steps to reduce the risk of injury if the effort and cost is disproportionate to the risk. The law focuses on good management and common sense and requires employers to carry out a risk assessment and then to make arrangements to implement measures to deal with any identified risk.
As to what is “reasonably practicable” is guided by case law and the specific duties set out in the Regulations. And there are quite a few of them!
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The main ones are:
- The Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999 –risk assessments must be carried out my employers and a written health and safety policy must be created;
- The workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – adequate and comfortable amenities: lighting, heating, workspace and toilets (amongst other things);
- The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) 1992 – now more important than every given that nearly every office worker will sit in front of a computer for at least part of their day;
- The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 – where required, protective equipment has to be provided free of charge to employees. Information and training is also required for the equipment’s safe use.
- The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 – applicable to any work situation where and employee as to undertake a manual handling operation (picking and carrying something) and there is risk of injury. Even today one of the largest causes of absence from work is back injury.
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – work equipment needs to be suitable and well maintained.
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (“RIDDOR”) – all Employers must keep an accident book to record the occurrence of any work place accidents and in more serious cases report that occurrence to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an independent Government funded regulator who has the power to prosecute employers for serious health and safety breaches.
- The Working Time Regulations 1998 – this covers an employee’s right to regular rest breaks, annual leave and limits the amount of hours an employee is compelled to work in a working week (currently 48 hours).
AND IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH….
In 2013 the Government passed the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which, amongst many other things, removed the civil right of action for breach of duty contained in certain health and safety legislation. Before the Act came into force an employee could claim personal injury compensation for an accident at work by way of a civil claim for any breach of the Health and Safety Regulations.
However there still exists the right of an employee to claim compensation from his employer for personal injuries caused by the employer’s negligence. This is also called the “Law of Tort”. You will need a legal advisor who fully understands the implications of this law and can demonstrate that whilst breaches of health and safety law might not give right to cause of action themselves, they are strong evidence of employers negligence.
At Personal Injury Solicitors Manchester we are more than well equipped to fight that fight for our clients who have been injured in an accident at work.
If you have had an accident at work as a result of something that your employer did (or should have done but didn’t) then Personal Injury Solicitors Manchestercan help. We have a deep understanding of the law applicable to employee’s safety and can ensure you have right seek the appropriate level of compensation.
IT DOESN’T NEED TO HAPPEN IN A ONE OFF ACCIDENT….You can develop an industrial disease!
Many employees can develop injuries because of small breaches of health and safety law over a prolonged period of time. Whilst that statutory breach or negligent act may only be small, after being subjected to the same breach day after day at work, it is quite common for people to develop Chronic Pain as a result of these breaches which in itself can often be a long term and serious injury.
It can also happen as a result of long term exposure to things at work, such as dust or air born fibrous materials, noise or vibrating machinery. This could result in deafness, lung disorders, or some other form of repetitive strain injury.
Once you realise that you are suffering as a result of your employer’s acts or omissions you need to act fast. Firstly, complain to your employer that certain working practices are causing you harm. This puts the employer “on notice” as to their breach and makes it much harder for them to deny that they were unaware that their actions were causing injury. But even if you did not get the chance to raise your concerns with your employer, if it did not carry out sufficient risk assessments of working practices, which might have highlighted the risk of injury an employee, then you may still have a valid claim.
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TOP TIPS IF YOU HAVE HAD AN ACCIDENT AT WORK
- Report the accident immediately to your employer.
- Get it put in the accident book! Make sure that your manager or appointed health and safety representative records the accident circumstances exactly how you describe them in your employer’s accident book. Remember, you have the right to see what is written and should be allowed to counter-sign it to confirm that you agree with what has been recorded.
- Take photos. Perhaps not the first thing to think about after you have been injured in an accident at work but if it’s possible, then these are likely to greatly assist your compensation claim.
- Speak to any witnesses, get their contact details and ask them to write down what they saw. Their evidence might be important later on if your story is disputed by your employer.
- Tell your doctor. When you attend your hospital or GP for treatment for your injuries, you will be asked how they happened. Make sure you give a very clear and accurate description of how you injured yourself and that this was in fact an accident at work.
- Keep copies of receipts and any other expenses you incur as a result of having been in an accident. This includes prescriptions, travel costs, damaged clothing or property and the cost of any private medical treatment such as physiotherapy. It can all be claimed back as part of your personal injury claim along with your lost wages.
- Call Personal Injury Solicitors Manchester for expert legal advice and to ensure you have the very best chances of success!
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