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SKU: 6.6
  • Advice

    In the United Kingdom, all employers have a duty of care to their staff, the duty requires them to do what is ‘reasonably practicable’ to fulfil this duty. This means that an employer is not required to do something to reduce the risk which would be grossly disproportionate or impossible. This duty is non-delegable, meaning that the employer themselves taking reasonable care to ensure their employees are safe is not enough instead they must ensure reasonable care is taken not only by themselves but anyone involved in the workplace. For example, the employer will be liable if those they delegate to do not take reasonable care to ensure the employees are safe. 


    They must ensure that the work environment is safe for their employees, this includes both physical and psychological harm. This duty requires employers to notify their employees of risks that exist in the workplace and to train their employees to deal with these risks. 


    There are four components to this duty:

    • Competent Workforce; 
    • Adequate Material and Equipment; 
    • Proper System of Working; and 
    • A Safe Workplace.


    Competent Workforce 

    The employer’s duty requires them to employ competent colleagues, this will not only include ensuring that the colleagues are suitably trained and supervised but they will also be responsible for any bullying, victimisation or harassment carried out by an employee or group of employees to another. This is because an employer is vicariously liable for the actions of their employees in the course of their employment. Vicariously liable means that they are deemed responsible for the acts of another, normally someone they are in a position of control over.


    Adequate Material and Equipment

    An employer must provide employees with all the necessary equipment to complete their job, they must also instruct employees how to use and maintain this equipment. An employer is even liable for negligently manufactured equipment they provide to their employees which causes them injury. They must take reasonable care in purchasing and providing sufficiently certified equipment to their employees. In Williams v Birmingham Battery and Metal Company the employer was held liable and made to pay compensation to the widow as the employer did not provide the employee with the correct safety equipment and the employee fell to their death.


    Although the court did mention in this case that an employer will not be liable to the same extent where an employee knows and willingly accepts the risks of harm. This is what is referred to as contributory negligence which is explained in more detail below. If the employer provides safety equipment that is not adequate to offer the protection the employee needs, then the employer will be liable for any harm the employee suffers which could have been prevented if better and more suitable safety equipment was provided. 


    Proper System of Working

    A proper system of working requires an employer to ensure the physical layout and order work is carried out in is safe, along with providing safety instructions and warnings to employees. They must ensure not only that this system exists but is implemented. It will not simply be enough for employers to provide employees with the safety equipment they must also provide the employee with instruction as to why and how to use it. In the case Pape v Cumbria County Council [1992] it was held it was not enough to provide safety equipment they also have to take reasonable steps to ensure the employee understands how and why to use them. 


    A Safe Workplace

    An employer is required to take reasonable care to ensure the workplace is safe, although they are not required to ensure it is completely safe only that they have taken reasonable care in ensuring its safety. An employer can also be responsible for injury caused at the premises of a third party which the employee sustains during their work. An example is the case of King v Smith and Another [1995] where an employer was held liable for an injury an employee suffered when they were cleaning a customer's window. 



    If an employer fails in their duty of care resulting in an injury to an employee, the employee may claim compensation. 


    Immediate action following an incident

    The first thing you should do after suffering an injury is to seek medication attention inform your appropriate manager, health and safety team member of the situation. If possible, take photos of the injury and of any defective equipment that may have caused it as there is a good chance it may get repaired between reporting the incident and an investigator having a chance to inspect it. You should always make an entry in the Accident Book (having one easily available is a legal requirement of all employers), again please take a photo as the pages from these have been known to disappear. You should also try and get written witness testimonies from co-workers.


    How we can help

    One of the issues with injury is proving fault, sometimes this is obvious, sometimes it is simply an accident. The criteria for a claim depends on proving an element of negligence. To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.


    To quantify compensation our legal team will appoint consultants (either Health and Safety, Medical or both) to assess your situation, they are privately contracted by us (and therefore their cost would be classed as a disbursement). To quantify the potential claim in regard to mental trauma we would suggest an additional report from our psychological team.


    The claim will consider two types of damages:

    • General damages- this compensates the victim for the pain and suffering endured, and for the loss of enjoyment of life as a result of the negligent act.
    • Special damages- this compensates the victim for any personal costs incurred as a result of the negligent act. It can also cover any additional costs required in the future such as remedial surgery to remedy the mistake, mental suffering and so on.


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our legal team and medical consultant and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.  

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