Accidents at Work – Employer’s Liability and Claimants
by Andrew Fairman
Accidents and injuries at work remain a prevalent issue. This was recently highlighted in an incident in Rochdale, wherein a man became trapped in a machine. The man suffered crush injuries, and faced contamination from the chemicals used within the machine.
A harrowing thought that you could go to work and become injured during the normal course of your employment duties. If the unfortunate does occur, it is important to know what you can do in order to put yourself in the best position to recover from your accident.
Accidents at work can range from small occurrences, such as a simple trip over equipment, to a severe accident, such as the one which recently occurred in a factory in Rochdale.
Nevertheless, each incident should be treated the same way. Taking action against the employer with whom the fault lies should be considered, as the claimant should receive adequate compensation (assisting in a return to the quality of life enjoyed prior to the injury).
Employers have many obligations relating to their employees, including ensuring that their employees are:
- operating in a safe environment
- provided with that correct and safe equipment
- provided with a safe and correct system of work
An employee must ensure that these requirements are upheld. Where these requirements are not in place, and an injury occurs as a result, liability will rest with the employer. The employee will be able to bring an action to recover compensation for the injury sustained.
The Enterprise Act took effect in October of 2013. This act provides that claimants will now have to prove the element of negligence on behalf of their employers, rather than simply relying on a breach of a regulation.
Yet, this does not – and should not – preclude claimants from bringing an action.
Whilst this does represent a change from the previous position held under the case of Stark v Post Office, and does remove the previous elements of strict liability on defendant employers for certain aspects, it does not restrict a claimant’s action where a Defendant employer has not followed the correct procedure.
If an employer has not taken the reasonable steps to prevent an accident, or to comply with the relevant regulations, a claimant will be able to show that the Defendant employer has been negligent in not implementing regulations and the Defendant employer will still be liable.
In an uncertain world, the changes to Employer’s Liability and the implementation of the Enterprise Act do suggest that a claimant will have to work harder to prove breach of duty by an employer. However, this does not mean that an employer can act unreasonably and that a claimant can have no recourse.
With incident’s such as the recent occurrence in the Rochdale factory we are reminded that accident’s at work remain a serious issue, and that employers should face recourse and sanctions where they have failed to act reasonably.