According to the Labour Force Survey and statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive, 233,000 non-fatal injuries to workers across Britain were reported in 2009/2010, during which time a further 1.3 million people suffered an illness that was either caused or made worse by their current or previous employment.
In the UK, employers are subject to a duty of care – in both a common law and statutory context – that requires them to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all their employees at work. Unfortunately, employers do not always adhere to this duty of care, which is why injured workers are sometimes required to take action through the courts. Listed below is a selection of different types of workplace accidents that tend to affect workers in Britain today.
Workplace accidents involving faulty equipment can occur just as easily in an office environment as they can on construction sites; however, defective or dangerous machinery most commonly affects workers in the manufacturing industry. According to the Health and Safety Executive, manufacturing accounts for 56 per cent – or 2,160 cases in 2009/2010 – of reported injuries involving contact with moving machinery. Faulty equipment can cause either immediate or gradual injury or illness depending on the circumstances. The law requires employers to ensure that all equipment is regularly checked and maintained in the interests of health and safety.
Lack of Training
Employers are also required to manage risks in the workplace. One of the most important health and safety measures that can be implemented by an employer is that of training. Workers who injure themselves after receiving insufficient training or instruction for an activity can bring a personal injury claim against their employer, whose omission would most likely be considered negligent by the court. People who have been injured in workplace accidents of this kind can speak to our specialist claims handlers for direction and advice on a no-obligation basis.
Slips, Trips and Falls
By far the most common types of workplace accident, slips, trips and falls from height account for more than 14,000 injuries to workers every year in the UK, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Falls from height often cause serious injuries and fatalities in the construction and agricultural industries, but a slip, trip or fall can be experienced by any person in any type of working environment.
A person who has suffered a slip, trip or fall in the workplace should attempt to identify the cause of the accident. As with almost any type of work-related personal injury claim, it is advisable to gather evidence of the event before legal action is taken. Suitable evidence might include photos or video footage of the cause of the accident. Eye witness accounts are also useful in support of such a claim, whilst medical evidence should be sought from a doctor. Finally, it is also sensible for injured workers to discuss the issue with their employers in the interests of maintaining a healthy working environment. Our specialist claims handlers can provide guidance on all stages of the claims process.
Repetitive Strain Injury
Repetitive strain injury (RSI), which is sometimes called a work-related upper limb disorder (WRULD), refers to a condition caused by excessive or repeated use of a particular part of the body – usually the hands, wrists, forearms, elbow, shoulders or neck. RSI often occurs in people who work with computers or carry out repetitive manual tasks.
Personal injury claims involving RSI are common in the UK, with as many as one in every 50 workers having reported the condition. As mentioned above, employers are duty-bound to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees, so instances of WRULD can give rise to legal action. Common RSI conditions include: bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, tendonitis and writer’s cramp.
Faulty or Inadequate Safety Equipment
Many workers rely on safety equipment in order to safely and effectively carry out their duties. Problems with safety equipment can result in death or serious injury to workers and members of the public. Personal injury claims can be brought against employers where injuries arise following the provision of faulty or inadequate safety equipment.
Moving Heavy Items
In the UK, workers from all types of industry are routinely required to lift or move heavy items. Unfortunately, working with heavy items can lead to serious health problems, including muscle strains, bone fractures and spinal damage. Employers must ensure that workers have access to suitable equipment when handling heavy items. Sufficient health and safety training on the subject must also be provided.
Chemicals and Hazardous Materials
Various rules and regulations apply to companies that work with chemicals and hazardous materials. Unfortunately, workers are sometimes exposed to dangerous and potentially deadly substances in the course of their employment. Substantial compensation can often be claimed for injuries and illnesses caused by exposure to chemicals and hazardous materials.
Many different types of industrial disease affect workers in the UK, including: asbestosis, mesothelioma, silicosis, leukaemia, cellulitis and asthma. Compensation for industrial diseases can often be claimed in the same manner as other personal injury claims, such as those involving slips, trips or falls. Claiming for certain types of industrial disease, however, can prove more complicated; liability for instances of asbestosis and mesothelioma, is often contested in court. Sadly, many industrial diseases cause long-term health problems and conditions such as mesothelioma that are usually terminal; therefore, the amount of compensation that might be awarded is often substantial because the damages must reflect the degree of suffering caused, cost of medical bills, loss of earnings and so on.
Occupational deafness or noise induced hearing loss affects thousands of workers in the UK. Although suitable equipment can help to prevent occupational deafness, which usually develops over a prolonged period of time, many workers are put at risk by their employers. Time restrictions apply to noise induced hearing loss claims as they do for all other types of personal injury claim; however, workers who developed hearing problems after exposure to industrial noise in a previous employment should call our specialist claims handlers for advice on the possibility of claiming for compensation.
Working on Public and Private Property
A workplace accident claim is usually brought against the worker’s employer; however, it is sometimes the case that compensation can also be sought from a third party. Workers who have suffered accidents on public or private property should contact our team of specialist claims handlers for guidance on issues of liability.