Accidents at work
Salmons Solicitors have a long established practice in handling claims involving accident at work and an accident at work can be an accident at the place where you are employed, or in a vehicle you drive on behalf of your employer or even at another workplace you have to visit in the course of your own employment.
The primary source of health and safety law in the workplace, since 1992 at least, are a group of European derived regulations known as the “six-pack”. The regulations are:-
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which apply to the tools and machinery and equipment in a workplace
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which applies to the work building itself
- The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 which deal with equipment which is worn for safety purposes
- The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (amended in 2002) which deals with the ergonomic design of computer workstations
- The Manual Handling Regulations 1992 which deals with lifting, handling and the moving of loads with bodily force. LINK – See Lifting & Handling Injuries at Work
These regulations set specific and detailed standards to be applied in a place of work. Some of the regulations create an absolute legal duty on the part of an employer, such as a duty to maintain a workplace or to maintain work equipment. Where there is an absolute duty, it is often much easier to establish a valid claim. Many of the other regulations create qualified duties framed in such a way that the obligation or standard to be applied only arises where reasonably practicable. Decided cases can help with the definition of ‘reasonable practicality’.
There are, however, many other regulations which apply to specific industries or to specifically hazardous activities. Three worthy of mention are:-
- The Construction ( Design and Management) Regulations 2007, which apply to building sites or building maintenance/repair work
- The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, which apply to lifting devices such as cranes and hoists.
- The Work at Height Regulations 2005, which apply to work above or below ground whereby if a person were to fall, the height of the fall would be liable to cause a personal injury. These also apply to falling articles or substances.
A concept introduced by the Health and Safety Regulations is the “hierarchy of measures”. This requires an employer to undertake a risk assessment in brief. If a risk to the health and safety of a worker is identified, the obligations which then arise are:-
- Avoid the activity where possible
- If it can not be avoided, undertake a more detailed risk assessment and reduce the risks to the lowest level reasonable and practicable
- If the risks cannot be reduced any further, to provide instruction, supervision, information and training so that any employee is aware of the dangers involved
In the cases we have seen, many employers either undertake no risk assessment at all or it is done mechanically, without proper thought. Where this occurs, it is often much easier to bring a successful claim where a worker has been injured as a result.
The general law of negligence (LINK: Negligence/General liability) also applies in the workplace. An employer is under a general duty to provide
(1) Competent fellow workers/employees
(2) Adequate work equipment
(3) A safe place of work
(4) A safe system of work
If you believe you have been injured as a result of an accident at work which wasn’t your fault, click on the link and complete the questionnaire form to obtain advice.