All employers in the UK have a legal responsibility to keep employees safe when they are at work which includes ensuring that the equipment and machinery is in good working order and not defective in any way. Should you sustain an injury because you had to work with defective equipment or machinery, you may be entitled to file for compensation for the injuries you sustained through employer negligence.
Your Employer’s Responsibilities on Maintaining Equipment and Machinery in the Workplace
Your employer must carry out risk assessments in the workplace which includes checking that all tools, equipment and machinery is in good condition and safe for employees to use. However, some employers fail to maintain the equipment and as a result, you are injured. If this is the case, your employer could be held in breach of their duty. The long-term damage that you could sustain when using defective equipment in the workplace can be catastrophic leaving you unable to work again.
Apart from the Health and Safety Executive regulations that all employers must legally abide by, employers must also adhere to the following:
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
The legislation sets out the regulations when it comes to ensuring that an employer has set in place all “reasonable” measures to protect employees from harm and injury in the workplace. The law states that employers should set in place the following safety measures:
- To conduct regular risk assessments of equipment, tools and machinery that employees use in the workplace and when necessary when they use equipment off-site
- To regularly and correctly maintain all equipment, tools and machinery as set out by the manufacturers
- To replace faulty or defective equipment, tools and machinery and to dispose of any that are not safe to use
- To provide sufficient and adequate training on how to use equipment, tools and machinery in the workplace
- To train all employees on how to use equipment, tools and machinery safely and to make them aware of all risks associated with their use
Should an employer fail in their duty to keep you safe from injury and harm when using equipment, tools and machinery at work which results in you being injured, you would be within your rights to seek compensation from an employer providing you meet specific criteria.
If you sustained any sort of injury at work due to defective equipment even if your injuries are relatively minor, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in accident at work claims sooner rather than later to avoid falling foul of the time limit associated with personal injury claims.
Facts and Statistics Relating to Defective Equipment in the Workplace
According to reports published by the Health and Safety Executive, the number of workplace accidents that result in injury due to defective equipment, tools and machinery are quite common in the UK. The statistics are detailed below:
- Around 145 workers suffered fatal injuries due to defective equipment from 2015 to 2016
- Around 1.2 million workers currently suffer from accident at work injuries
- There were 611,000 accident at work injuries reported from 2014 to 2015
- Around 27.3 million days are lost from 2013 to 2014
- Around £14 billion was spent on work-related injury treatments from 2013 to 2014
Common Injuries Sustained When Using Defective Work Equipment
There are many injuries you can sustain when working with defective equipment, machinery and tools with the most common being listed below:
- Injuries sustained due to working with defective equipment that results in parts of your body being crushed
- Broken bones and fractures
- Spinal and back injuries
- Permanent damage that result in disability
Would My Defective Work Equipment Claim be Valid?
There are many laws that protect you as an employee in the workplace which includes when you suffer an injury because of defective work equipment. These are detailed below:
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
- The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
Should you have suffered an injury because you worked on defective equipment, tools or machinery, you would need to provide evidence that an employer was in breach of any of the above which would make them liable for your injuries. A solicitor who specialises in defective work equipment claims would assess whether your employer failed to set in place preventive measures to ensure you were kept safe while at work.
It is also worth noting that even as an employee, you would have every right to file a claim against a manufacturer should you have suffered an injury which can be proved to have been caused by defective work equipment. You could also be entitled to file for compensation against the company that services the equipment should you believe they were responsible for the accident occurring.
How Would My Defective Work Equipment Injury be Assessed?
Whether you sustained a minor injury or something more catastrophic as a result of working with defective work equipment, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a doctor can provide a detailed report of the injuries you sustained. Typical injuries sustained when working with defective equipment could include the following:
- Minor injuries which can be treated in a relatively short time. This includes surface burns, minor soft tissue damage, bruises, cuts and swelling
- Moderately serious injuries could include fractures and broken bones, injuries to your back and neck as well as other damage from which you could recover
- Serious burns, neurological damage, amputation, muscle tissue damage, kidney failure, eye injuries which includes cataracts are deemed extremely severe injuries that can occur as a result of working with defective equipment, machinery and tools. This type of injury often leads to permanent damage that requires ongoing treatment and can be life-changing
When it comes to assessing the extent of your injuries and the amount of compensation you may be awarded in a successful defective work equipment claim, several things would be factored in which includes the following:
- The severity and complexity of your injuries and how your life is negatively impacted
- Whether your injuries prevent you from working again
- Whether you require ongoing treatment for the injuries you sustained
What are the Long-Term Effects of a Defective Work Equipment Injury?
All too often when injured while working with defective equipment, machinery or tools, you may not immediately be aware of the extent of the damage you sustained. Your injuries may appear minor at first with more serious symptoms only becoming apparent later on in time. Should you have suffered a burn when working with defective equipment which left you with unsightly scarring, you may find that it negatively impacts how you are treated by other people which can lead to you suffering from depression.
Should your injuries damage internal organs, you could be at risk of developing other health issues which could negatively impact the rest of your life. As a result, you may find that you are dependent on others and you may even need to be cared for on a daily basis either by a family member or a carer for the remainder of your life.
What To Do Following an Accident Due to Defective Work Equipment
If you sustained an injury at work because of defective equipment whether you were using machinery or tools, your employer could be held liable for your injuries. There are specific steps you should follow when you are involved in an accident at work that leaves you injured whether your injuries are slight or a lot more severe. The steps to follow are detailed below:
- Seek medical attention as soon as you can even if you think your injuries are only minor
- Collect as much evidence of the accident as you can which includes CCTV footage if available, photos of where the accident occurred and the equipment involved
- Take witness statements remembering to get their contact details which are needed should you decide to file for compensation
- Make sure the accident has been reported to the person in charge/employer – this should be a formal detailed account of the incident, the defective equipment and your injuries
- Obtain an official medical report which details the extent of the injuries sustained working with defective equipment
You should also discuss your case with an accident at work solicitor who would assess your claim to determine who could be held liable for the injuries you sustained and whether your case could be upheld by a court.
What Can I Include in My Defective Work Equipment Claim?
The compensation you may receive in a successful defective equipment claim, is broken down into two categories which are general damages and special damages as detailed below:
- General damages are awarded and calculated to cover any pain, suffering and loss of amenity you had to endure as a direct result of having been injured in the workplace
- Special damages are awarded and calculated on the amount of out-of-pocket expenses you incurred which you would not have had to deal with should you have not been injured at work. This includes travel expenses for necessary treatments, medical bills which includes specialist treatment and prescriptions. It also covers any loss of earnings and future earnings as well as care costs should you need specialist care as a direct result of the injuries you sustained when working on defective equipment at work
In order to prove your defective equipment claim, it is crucial that you keep all records of the expenses you have to pay out following an accident at work.
How Do I Start a Defective Work Equipment Accident Claim?
If you are unsure of whether you would be entitled to claim compensation for a defective equipment injury you sustained at work, you should discuss your case with a solicitor who specialises in work-related personal injury claims. You will find that a solicitor would offer a no obligation, free initial consultation in order to determine whether your claim against an employer would be upheld by the courts. You should also make sure that the accident was reported to the necessary authorities if your injuries were “reportable” to RIDDOR.
Once a solicitor has assessed your claim and believes you have a strong case against an employer due to their negligence, a solicitor would typically offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. In short, the solicitor would be able to start working on your claim by informing your employer and their insurers of your intentions and they would do so without requesting a retainer or upfront fee.
How Long Before I Receive Compensation for a Defective Work Equipment Claim?
The time it takes for a court or insurers to settle a defective work equipment claim, would depend on the complexity of the case and whether you would need ongoing treatment for the injuries sustained. There are many factors that are taken into consideration but should your claim be straightforward and undisputed, it can take anything from 6 to 9 months for a settlement to be reached. In short, this is the time it may take for you to receive compensation providing your claim is not complex.
Working With a No Win No Fee Solicitor on a Defective Work Equipment Claim
Having agreed to work with a solicitor on a No Win No Fee basis, it leaves you to concentrate on your recovery having been injured in a defective equipment at work accident. Because the solicitor has signed a Conditional Fee Agreement with you, means they can begin working on your case without you having to pay an upfront fee. They would communicate with your employer and insurers which can help speed up what is often a long drawn out, complex legal process.
A Conditional Fee Agreement means you can pay for the legal representation you receive from a No Win No Fee solicitor when your defective equipment claim is successful and the percentage you agreed to pay would be deducted directly from the amount of compensation you are awarded. Should your claim be unsuccessful, because the solicitor agreed to take on the risk, you would have nothing to pay for the legal services they provided on your defective equipment claim.