Employment liability claims
When a person is injured at work it is usually the case that they think they have themselves to blame or feel that they have no choice but to put up with the injuries they have sustained. This should not always be the case. Occasionally, the facts give rise to a cause of action for negligence on the part of the employer.
An employer owes an employee a duty of care. This means that the employer should take reasonable care to ensure that his employees are safe during the course of their employment. This could include providing: competent staff, adequate plant and equipment, a safe system of work and safe premises.
The test to establish whether reasonable care is being taken is judged on the reasonable employer, who must:
- take precautions for the safety of his workers
- in the light of what he knows, or ought to know, and/li>
- where there is a general and recognised practice which has been followed for a substantial period of time, he is entitled to follow it unless in the light of common sense or newer knowledge it is clearly bad./li>
- where there is developing knowledge, the employer must keep abreast of it and reasonable steps to apply it
Breach of Statutory Duty
There are a number of statutory obligations on an employer. These include:
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
Reg 4(4): PPE must be provided and will only be suitable if it is appropriate to the risk involved, the conditions that it will be exposed to and the period for which it may be worn.
Reg 6: The employer should make an assessment to ensure that it is suitable and compatible with other work equipment that is used.
Reg 7: The employer must maintain the PPE in efficient working order and in good repair.
Reg 9: The employer must ensure that where PPE is provided, employees are given such information, instruction and training as is sufficient to ensure that they understand the purpose of the PPE and any action that the employee must take to ensure the proper and efficient working of the PPE.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
Reg 4: The employer shall ensure the suitability of work equipment for the purpose for which it is intended. The equipment must be suitable for the intended purpose and for the place in which it will be used.
Reg 5: The employer must ensure that the equipment is maintained in an efficient state
Reg 8: The employer must ensure that the employee has adequate health and safety information, and where appropriate, written instruction in the use of equipment.
Reg 9: The employer must ensure that anyone using the equipment has had adequate training, including as to any risks which the use of the equipment might pose, and as to the precautions to be adopted.
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
Reg 6: There must be adequate ventilation
Reg 7: The indoor temperature during working hours must be reasonable, and thermometers must be provided to enable employees to determine the temperature.
Reg 8: Workplaces must have suitable lighting, which, if reasonably practicable, should be natural light.
Reg 9: Workplaces must be kept sufficiently clean. So far as is reasonably practicable, waste materials must not be allowed to accumulate.
Reg 12: Every floor or traffic route surface must be suitable for the purpose for which it is used. It must have no hole or slope, or be uneven or slippery so as to expose any person to a risk to his health or safety.
An employer will be liable for his own employee’s negligent acts if they were committed during the course of his employment and caused another employee to sustain injury.
‘The course of his employment’ refers to acts that are connected to the authorised acts that the employee undertakes in relation to the carrying out of his duties.
This means that where an employee has been carrying out acts authorised by the employer in an unauthorised manner and in doing so has caused injury to another employee; the employer will be liable to the injured employee.
The Claimant will frequently make a claim both in negligence and for breach of statutory duty. These are separate causes of action; but notwithstanding this they are very closely linked. Furthermore a Claimant might find that although his employer seems to have complied with his statutory duty, for example by providing protective toe-capped boots, he has nevertheless failed to instruct the employees to wear the boots and has therefore been negligent.
This practice has dealt with a number of claims in cases of this nature and each case is different. Our Personal Injury department can assist you in establishing whether there may be grounds for a claim under unlawful assault and can discuss with you the methods of funding such a claim.
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