In the UK, 142 workers were killed at work and an estimated 441,000 sustained non-fatal injuries in the years 2020/21, according to the HSE’s ‘Kind of accident statistics in Great Britain’. Whilst many of these incidents occur in environments where the employer has done all that they possibly can to safeguard the employee, there are many occasions where this is not the case and where the member of staff who sustained the injury may have grounds to bring a personal injury claim.
“We are often approached by people who have been injured in the workplace and have doubts as to whether they are eligible to make a claim” says John McCarthy, a personal injury lawyer at McCarthy & Co. “What we often find is that employers have tried to cut corners in certain areas, which has had a significant impact on the claimant’s level of injury. We help them to build their case and secure the compensation they deserve”.
There are many different types of non-fatal injuries that occur in the workplace where the employee may have grounds to bring a case for compensation. This includes the following.
Slips, trips, and falls
These sorts of accidents in the workplace are the most reported, according to the HSE. 33% of the 441,000 estimated accidents fall into the slips, trips, and falls category. Offices, factories, construction sites, shops and just about any other type of work environment are potential spaces where a significant injury could occur due to slipping or tripping on a surface or falling from an elevated position onto hard ground.
Employers in the UK must adhere to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which places duties on employers to produce a written policy that explains how they intend to manage health and safety. Employers must also tell employees about risks to their health from working practices and equipment, inform them of what they do to protect against the risks, train and inform on workplace safety and provide protective equipment for hazardous environments.
Employers who fail to adhere to healthy and safety guidelines, which then leads to a staff member sustaining an avoidable injury because of a slip, trip, or fall, opens the potential for the employee to bring a personal injury claim.
Handling, lifting, or carrying heavy objects
These sorts of accidents in the workplace account for 18% of the total reported in the UK. Employers who fail to provide adequate care and training to staff who handle heavy objects leave themselves open to expensive litigation proceedings. Employees involved in these sorts of accidents can sustain overexertion injuries such as muscle strains and repetitive strain injuries (RSI) which can both be the cause of long-term debilitating pain.
When an employee suffers a significant loss of income and quality of life due to these injuries, this can result in big compensation pay-outs that are both financially crippling and reputationally damaging for any employer.
Struck by a moving object
In the UK, 10% of all workplace accidents reported were related to the employee being struck by a moving object. Employers must take great care when assigning employees to any type of environment where objects such as stacked boxes, machinery, tools, vehicles, or toxic materials could fall or strike staff members whilst they are working. Again, failure to take steps to train staff and warn them of the dangers could result in litigation proceedings.
Falls from Height
Personal injury cases involving a fall from a height can often result in larger compensation pay-outs due to the impact and gravity of the injuries that claimants sustain. Construction businesses, for example, need to be especially vigilant when it comes to safeguarding employees working from height on ladders, cherry pickers, skyscrapers, or scaffolding.
In the UK, employers should follow the Occupational Safety and Health Association’s (OSHA) fall protection requirements. Failure to follow guidelines will again open the possibility of costly litigation proceedings.
Fire and explosions
Fires and explosions in the workplace can result in mass litigation by multiple employees against their employer, in scenarios where the employer has failed to take the correct precautions relating to workplace hazards. Fires and explosions can cause severe injuries such as burns, damage to the respiratory system, and disfigurement. These types of workplace injuries are relatively rare, but when they do occur can cause immense financial and reputational damage for an employer.
Whilst fatal accidents in the workplace are relatively rare, particularly in developed countries such as the UK, non-fatal accidents are a frequent occurrence that can lead to life-changing injuries and loss of quality of life for the employees who suffer them. Employers must be vigilant and ensure that they are adhering to the legislation and guidelines relevant to the location of their businesses, to avoid potentially costly litigation and damage to reputation.