Almost 1.6 million people suffered from work-related injuries and illnesses in 2019-20, as per the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics. This amounts to a total cost of £19,000 per non-fatal injury and £1.7 million per injury resulting in death.
Every employer is responsible for the health and safety of their employees while they are working. If employers do not have relevant procedures and safety practices in place, they have failed to uphold their legal duties, and employees have the right to claim compensation.
A successful claim can result in employers having to pay for medical treatment, suffering, and any illness caused by the violation.
Injury at work compensation claims vary depending on the severity of the injuries, the actual and projected medical treatment expenses, income lost for the number of lost working days, and many other factors.
Why Compensation are Claims Necessary
Personal injury compensation plays a vital role in upholding health and safety legislation. Compensation helps employees that have suffered accidents or ill health recover from the personal and practical effects.
In addition, this legal recourse underscores an employer’s duty to protect the health and well being of anyone affected by their operations.
The Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has affected every UK employer and their employees. Employers need to implement additional health and safety measures to protect workers against the unique risks posed by Coronavirus.
These measures include switching to remote working, changing workers’ roles, implementing furloughs, or temporarily halting operations.
Since more employees are now performing their duties in a home office environment, a new range of health and safety risks must be considered.
Home workers are often under pressure to perform tasks in a less than suitable environment. This can result in mental health issues such as increased stress levels and burnout from overwork. Feelings of isolation and depression can also be common.
Musculoskeletal disorders can develop from sub-standard workstation ergonomics. The risk of fire can be heightened by overloaded power boards.
To ensure their workers stay safe in the home environment, employers must provide adequate training, equipment, and support.
According to recent advice from the UK government, the burden is on employers to protect employees from Covid-19 related risks. This applies whether employees are on-site or working from home.
To protect staff from coronavirus exposure and minimise compensation claims, all businesses and organisations should implement appropriate workplace health and safety measures.
Because the coronavirus situation is incredibly dynamic, changes to health and safety legislation can occur more frequently than normal. It is advised that employers stay up to date with the latest recommendations from the UK government.
What are Employers’ Legal Obligations?
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their employees. If an accident at work occurs, employees have the legal right to pursue a compensation claim.
It is the employer’s responsibility to understand the nature of the accident and investigate the circumstances immediately. The 1974 Act has several explicit provisions. Employers must:
- Carry out a complete and ongoing risk assessment of work roles and the workplace environment
- Execute adequate preventative measures to minimise the risk of injury – including offering suitable personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Appoint competent persons to carry out ongoing inspections
- Regularly offer relevant offline or online health and safety trainings to employees
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 provides more information on how these provisions can be applied.
Common Injuries and Illnesses That Can Be Claimed
Employees can make a range of compensation claims relating to injuries or illnesses caused by a breach of health and safety regulations in the workplace.
The most frequent causes of non-fatal UK workplace injuries include manual handling, slips, trips, moving objects, acts of violence, and falls from height, according to recent data from the HSE.
Other common compensation claims relate to mental health issues such as stress and depression, musculoskeletal problems, and respiratory illnesses.
Claims arising from the coronavirus pandemic may include failure to prove adequate PPE, failure to ensure sufficient hygiene procedures in the workplace, or as a result of direct exposure to the coronavirus.
Every claim will have its own set of unique circumstances. When deciding on the suitable amount of compensation, employers need to assess what tasks were being performing during the time of the claim as well as the ongoing impact of the injury or illness.
How Much Compensation Can an Employee Claim for a Health and Safety Breach?
The amount of money an employee can claim for an injury or illness resulting from a breach of health and safety regulations depends on:
- The severity of the injury or illness
- Financial loss or costs incurred by the employee as a result of the injury or illness
When assessing a compensation claim, solicitors consider the ways in which the health and safety breach injury has negatively affected the worker’s life. The requested compensation amount is then calculated based on the severity of the general damages and special damages suffered by the claimant.
General damages are granted for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity, also referred to as PSLA, caused as a direct result of poor workplace conditions. General damages cover physical injuries as well as mental health conditions.
Special damages are awarded for financial loss and the costs that a worker has incurred as a direct result of a workplace accident. Special damages can include lost wages, diminished earning capacity, loss of property, and medical expenses.
Making a Successful Compensation Claim
For a compensation claim to be successful, an employee must prove that their injury or illness was caused while carrying out their work duties or as a result of carrying out their duties.
It must also be shown that the injury or illness was caused by an employer failing to provide safe and secure workplace conditions.
To demonstrate that an employer has been negligent in their duty of care obligations, relevant information needs to be gathered. This includes:
- Medical reports that cite symptoms, treatment, and prognosis
- An accident book report
- Company health and safety information
- Witness statements
The severity of the impact on the claimant’s health and quality of life will depend on the nature of the illness or injury incurred. The associated compensation amounts will vary since they are awarded based on the merits and circumstances of each individual case.
How Compensation Claims Can Affect Businesses
Employees have the right to pursue justice by making a compensation claim if they have been injured or become ill because of negligence on behalf of their employer. However, the impact that a compensation claim has on a business is not always completely negative.
Compensation claims force workplaces to update and improve their health and safety management policies. This creates a safer and happier workplace for all employees, which can result in increased productivity.
Improving health and safety measures also reduces costs related to downtime caused by accidents or illness and may decrease insurance costs.
It is in the best interests of employers to ensure that any compensation claims are resolved and that their employees are assured of a safe working environment.