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Workplace accidents

The law

All employers have a basic legal duty to take reasonable care for the safety of their workers. If an employee has an accident at work and is injured then an employer can be held responsible for that accident if it can be proved that the employer is negligent.

Employer's duty

Employer's duty to take reasonable care

An employer's duty to take reasonable care can be split into four main obligations. These are to provide:

  • Safe equipment and machinery.
  • Safe and competent work mates.
  • A safe system of work.
  • A safe place of work.

However, a framework of statutory legislation and laws created by Parliament also cover the above duties and provides protection to employees.

Health & Safety

Safe equipment and machinery

Employers must provide safe equipment and machinery. This means that tools, machines and equipment used by employees must be reasonably safe and adequate for the purpose for which they are intended. This also means the employer must provide safe working premises. For example, if the floor is slippery or uneven, the employer can be held liable if they knew of the defect or ought to have been aware of it.

Employers have a duty to take precautions where necessary to avoid electrical failure. A regular system of maintenance and inspection is obligatory and all businesses should conduct regular PAT testing to ensure employee or public safety is maximised.

Safe and competent work colleagues

Employers are directly responsible for the negligence of their employees. If one employee is negligent and injures another worker, the injured person can sue the employer and claim compensation. Employers must take reasonable care when selecting and training their workforce. They must give proper information, instructions and training to ensure that their employees carry out their work in an environment that is safe for everybody.

A safe system of work

Employers must have safe systems of work in place. This duty forces employers to introduce safe systems of work and to ensure that the systems are maintained and modified as necessary. This includes the physical layout of work, the sequence in which the work is to be done, the giving of warnings and notices, providing information and training, and establishing safe working conditions.

If employers fail to ensure that a safe system is in use and an employee then has an accident as a result, the employers will be held responsible and will have to pay the employee compensation.

A safe place of work

An employer must provide a safe place of work. This is a general duty that often overlaps with the others.

We have an experienced team of solicitors to help you decide if you have a case, in what is a specialised area of law.

Health and Safety Executive

Employers are under a duty to report any accident to the Health and Safety Executive that involves a serious injury or death. These injuries include fractures, amputations, or injuries that involve the injured person being hospitalised for more than 24 hours. Also any major incident such as explosions or collapse of equipment must be reported. The report must be made immediately and confirmed in writing within seven days.

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