Employers’ responsibilities to workers
Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for their employees. This covers all aspects of your job, including how and where you work. Employers’ legal responsibilities to provide a safe environment for workers are set out in various pieces of health and safety legislation including the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Whilst the majority of employers discharge their health and safety duties and work hard to ensure their employees are working in a safe environment, a minority do not take their responsibilities sufficiently seriously.
If you suffer an injury whilst at work, or a member of your family has been injured or died as a result of a workplace incident, your employer may be held legally responsible. However, it will have to be proved that the incident giving rise to the injury/ies resulted from the employer’s breach their legal duties.
What is an industrial injury?
Industrial injuries include workplace injuries, such as broken bones, amputations, cuts and burns; as well as diseases and long term conditions that have arisen as a result of someone’s work, such as vibration white finger, asbestosis, and deafness. Any injuries or illnesses that arise because of incidents, accidents or unhealthy environments in the workplace are known as industrial injuries or diseases.
However, genuine accidents do happen. The question is: how to you prove that the injury (or condition) resulted from an employer’s negligence?
Sometimes, an industrial injury is sustained as a direct result of an employer’s failure to comply with health and safety regulations, or their duty of care towards the worker. Breaches of health and safety legislation in the workplace may manifest themselves as:
- Poor practices for manual handling
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals regulated under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHHR)
- Poor design or maintenance of the workplace
- Inadequate or no training
Illnesses and conditions
If your workplace, or the type of work you do, has caused you a disease or long-lasting condition, you are likely to be able to claim compensation from the employer. The most notable cases involving industrial disease relates to asbestosis and vibration white finger. It may be many years, sometimes decades, before a victim becomes aware they are suffering from a condition as a result of the work they have undertaken – but they can still make a claim once they do become aware.
If you believe your injury or condition was caused by your employer’s negligence, you may be able to make a claim for personal compensation against them.
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