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Accident at Work Claims

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill is about to bring huge changes to claims involving accidents at work. 

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 has a number of regulations that have to be followed by employers in relation to providing a safe place of work, safe equipment and safety clothing where necessary in respect of their employees.

When an accident happens at work the employee can bring a claim for compensation for any injuries they have suffered as a result of the employer having breached the regulations.

The regulations impose strict liability on the part of the employer. In most cases the employer has been negligent in some way.  However if the employer has not been negligent if the regulations have been breached he is till liable to his employee.

Take the following example:  An employee is at work using a spanner. The spanner is in some way defective and as the employee has used the spanner is snaps, causing him to fracture his finger.  The employer is not negligent.  The employer had no reason to know that the spanner was defective and to have replaced it.  The employer is still liable however.  The Health and Safety at Work Act requires the employer to provide his employee with safe tools.  The spanner is not safe – it is defective and the employer is therefore liable – irrespective of the fact that he is not negligent.

The Bill however seeks to “do away” with the regulations.  The Government is looking to instead have criminal regulations in place.  Whilst employers can therefore be prosecuted by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) for breaching the regulations, the employee will not be able to bring a civil claim against the employer for any breaches and injuries that result from that breach.  If the employee wants to bring a claim against his employer he must show negligence.

It follows that if the above case were to occur following the implementation of the bill the employee will have no claim for compensation whatsoever.  Whilst the HSE can investigate and take whatever action they see necessary, the employee will be excluded from any compensation claim for his broken finger unless he can establish some degree of negligence on the part of his employer !

This page © Copyright 2012, Vashti Norman Solicitor, Mediator and Notary Public.