Injuries at work are unsurprisingly common in the UK given the amount of time people devote to work, and the ever-increasing pressures on companies to minimize costs and maximize productivity. Health and Safety legislation has been effective in reducing certain types of work injuries and illnesses; construction accidents for example have declined by almost 50% over the past decade. However, as known workplace threats are eliminated so new ones emerge. Ten years ago issues such as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) were unknown, while further back substances such as asbestos were routinely handled by employees lacking any knowledge of the long-term health implications.
Regulatory bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are fighting an essential, yet unwinnable war on behalf of workplace safety. 30 million working days were lost due to injury and illness in 2008/09, and over a quarter of a million reported injuries to workers were recorded. The net cost to the UK economy is incalculable. Increased legislation and the best efforts of work injury solicitors have failed to reduce these figures over the past twenty years.
Critics and the press often highlight seemingly groundless claims for compensation and the amount of administrative ‘red tape’ that employers must confront. With regard to safety in the workplace however, successful claims not only serve to financially compensate injured persons, but also aim to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future. Employers must protect workers from foreseeable threats to their health as far as reasonably possible. Where such protection is lacking, and employees are injured through no fault of their own, specialist work injury solicitors should be consulted with a view to ultimately improving working conditions.
The No Win No Fee system which replaced Legal Aid has the same noble ambition of providing access to justice, regardless of financial means. Damages when awarded are normally covered by Employers Liability Insurance and will address pain, suffering, loss of earnings and ongoing medical requirements.
Accidents, injuries and illnesses may occur in all working environments, whether factory, farm or office, and the HSE publishes industry-specific guidelines to address all likely scenarios. A physical accident at work may be caused by inadequate training, lack of supervision, defective equipment or generally unsafe premises or working practices. Employers are also responsible for the actions of co-workers under the principle of vicarious liability. In each case a work injury solicitor will seek to prove ‘negligence’ on the part of the employer, and a subsequent failure in their duty of care to workers. Illnesses and industrial diseases are often caused by exposure to hazardous substances. Respiratory disorders may develop from poor ventilation, or skin diseases such as dermatitis may result if appropriate protective equipment is not provided. Often diseases may take years to become apparent; asbestosis and mesothelioma for example can take up to 40 years to develop. While most personal injury claims must be launched within 3 years of the date of the causatory event, industrial disease claims depend on the ‘date of knowledge’, i.e. when the disease was diagnosed.
The law related to work injuries and illnesses is often complex, and it is therefore imperative that an experienced, specialist work injury solicitor is engaged to handle claims for compensation. At Bartletts Solicitors our work injury lawyers have extensive experience in all types of work accident and illness compensation claims. We operate on a No Win No Fee basis meaning if you win your case you keep all of the damages awarded, and if you lose you will not pay a penny.