We come across employees who have been injured as a result of an accident in the workplace, for example as a result of defective machinery, unsafe systems of work and failures to provide and enforce the use of personal protective equipment. It is important that you, as an employer, are aware of the potential dangers in your workplace and how these potential dangers can be reduced to avoid the high costs of a personal injury claim by an employee.
For example our personal injury team have acted for a claimant who has been left blind in one eye as a result of an accident at work.
The Claimant worked for a steel manufacturing company and, during the course of his work, a steel band which was being cut sprung up and hit the Claimant in the eye. The Claimant was not provided with eye protection. As a result of the accident the Claimant lost the sight in his eye and had to undergo multiple operations. The case has also been reported to the HSE for investigation.
Personal Protective Equipment (Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992)
The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations provide guidance to employers in relation to the provision and use of personal protective equipment such as helmets, clothing and safety glasses. The claim outlined above shows why it is vital employers, especially in the manufacturing sector, ensure personal protective equipment is available (in sufficient supply and easily accessible), that employees are trained in the use of personal protective equipment and notices are clearly visible enforcing the use of personal protective equipment to prevent accidents where possible and that they adhere to the Health & Safety Regulations. If the Claimant had been wearing eye protection or a face mask it is likely the injury would not have been sustained.
Inspection & maintenance (Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992)
The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations provide guidance for employers for the general health and safety of the employees in the workplace. For example employers should undertake regular maintenance checks of machines and if a defect is found the defect should be repaired as soon as practicable, to avoid the risk of a workplace accident.
Training & risk assessments (Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999)
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations reinforces the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and offers guidance to employers for managing health and safety in the workplace. It is essential that regular risk assessments of equipment and work practices are performed to identify any risks and how those risks can be reduced. It is also important that employees are trained on safe working practices and risks in the workplace and how these can be avoided. You should also ensure documentation is kept in relation to risk assessments, training, warning notices etc.
Failing to adhere to the Health and Safety Regulations could result in a workplace accident and a personal injury claim being made against you which will result in litigation costs and compensation pay outs, low morale, employee absence and sick pay. In serious work place accidents the Health and Safety Executive may consider prosecution and sanctions which can affect your reputation as well as your finances.