While many angle grinding accidents may be relatively small, angle grinders themselves are extremely powerful pieces of machinery which should be treated with respect at all times. Mostly powered by electric they are used in many areas of business from builders to roofers to welding to farming, the emergency services to vehicle repairs. Even though there is an inherent risk in using angle grinders there are ways and means of mitigating the dangers and ensure (as much as possible) the safety of employees. However, angle grinding accidents occur on a regular basis and while the majority of injuries received will be relatively minor, some people are not so fortunate.
What Is An Angle Grinder?
The main component of an angle grinder is the fast spinning wheel which is extremely useful across a whole range of different workplace activities. These include:
- Cutting stone
- Cutting metal
- Cutting concrete
There is an inherent risk in using such devices with the wheel rotating extremely fast and able to cut through the hardest of materials. Although many angle grinding accidents occur due to the user not appreciating how dangerous they can be, if you believe you have however received an angle grinding injury as a consequence of negligence on behalf of your employer, or another third party, then you may have an angle grinding accident claim for compensation.
Common Angle Grinder Accident Claims
It is the speed at which the angle grinding wheel rotates which makes it so powerful and so useful for many different activities. Some of the more common injuries seen in angle grinding accident claims include:
- Eye injuries
- Amputation of hands/fingers
- Cuts across the head, face and neck
- Injuries received from flying debris
When you consider that injuries such as amputation and blindness can easily occur when using angle grinders, it is imperative that all safety measures are taken and the equipment is maintained to a very high standard. A missing guard, loose wheel or ill-fitting components can literally make an angle grinder a death trap.
It is also worth noting that various long-term medical conditions have been associated with the use of angle grinders such as vibration white finger and dust in the lungs when failing to use the appropriate safety equipment. When you consider that you could be cutting concrete, metal or any other material, the tiny particles of dust created can easily be inhaled. If you’re suffering with vibration white finger (VWF) and believe it’s down to the use of angle grinders and negligence this page provides advice on VWF claims.
Even in situations where there is inherent danger with specific devices and procedures, this does not mitigate the legally binding duty of care which all employers have towards their employees. They are legally obliged to maintain a safe working environment and take all of the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of injury. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act 1998 specifically covers the use of potentially dangerous devices such as angle grinders, taking into account matters such as:
- Initial and ongoing training for employees.
- The provision of safety equipment and guards.
- The issue of safety clothing and devices such as goggles.
- Regular assessment of working practices aimed at improving safety.
- Considering alternative procedures where there is a high risk of injury.
- Updating all employees on health and safety issues.
- Allocating appropriately experienced staff for use with devices such as angle grinders
- Publishing and updating working procedures/practices.
In order to pursue an angle grinding accident claim against your employer there needs to be a level of negligence on behalf of the employer. There will be situations where injuries are received by employees and the employer is able to show they did as much as possible to mitigate the dangers and reduce the risks. In this type of situation they may only be held partially negligent, or any negligence claim dismissed, because they did as much as possible under their duty of care. When an employer fails to deliver on their duty of care to an employee this is when the issue of negligence becomes more prevalent.
Safety legislation is vital when using devices such as angle grinders which can be extremely dangerous if not maintained correctly and not used with the correct safety equipment. There are a number of ways in which an employer can be deemed negligent in the event of an angle grinder accident taking in issues such as:
- Appropriate training to employees.
- Was the correct disc being used?
- Were safety guards fitted and in working order?
- Was an angle grinder appropriate for the task in hand?
- Was there sufficient ventilation to reduce the risk of heat-related incidents?
- Was the correct PPE provided? Advice on PPE claims here.
These are just a small selection of the questions which may be asked in the event of an angle grinding injury and potential negligence on behalf of the employer. It is also worth noting that while an employer has a duty of care to their employees, employees also have a duty of care to follow safety guidelines and ensure the well-being of their colleagues.
In cases where an employee is injured using an angle grinder and it was found that they acted negligently themselves then they may be held partially responsible. While the emphasis is obviously on employers to train and protect their employees, common sense must prevail amongst those using what are potentially lethal devices.
Evidence In Angle Grinding Accident Claims
If you have been injured as a consequence of an angle grinding accident then the first thing to do is obviously seek the appropriate medical attention. This will ensure that any injuries, and any potential complications, are addressed as soon as possible with the correct treatment received in a swift and controlled manner. Consideration will be given to the level of medical attention available on site, where injuries occur in the workplace, which can be extremely important while waiting for paramedics. The fact that all details of the incident, examination and treatment received will be noted on the individual’s medical records can also prove very useful if angle grinding accident compensation is pursued in due course. Even though there is a three-year window in which to pursue aa angle grinder accident claim for compensation, time can very often blur the details of the incident and the day in question therefore any claim should be lodged sooner rather than later.
Once medical attention has been received the next stage is to gather as much supporting evidence as possible in the shape of photographs of the area, photographs of the device and photographs of the injuries. It can often prove useful to obtain a copy of the workplace accident book as very often they can indicate patterns of similar angle grinder accidents. If there are witnesses to your accident, it would be very useful to take statements to support your version of events because all of the evidence together can create a strong case. Once you have collated as much evidence as possible you may then want to approach a personal injury solicitor together with a timeline of events so that they may review your claim.
No Win No Fee Arrangements
Should a personal injury solicitor conclude your angle grinding accident entitles you to compensation and advise starting a claim they will probably suggest you claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This effectively means you will not pay and fees to the solicitors company if your claim is not won. They will however agree with you a “success fee” of up to 25% of any compensation awarded. The fact many people would not be able to fund an angle grinding accident claim without the No Win No Fee arrangement in place offers the appropriate level of return for all parties.
Once an agreement has been reached for a personal injury solicitor to take on your angle grinding injury claim, the claim and evidence will be lodged with the courts and a copy passed over to the defendant. If negligence in your case is fairly straightforward, an out-of-court settlement may be discussed at a relatively early stage. This allows the defendant to limit their costs going forward and also ensures that any agreed compensation award is paid sooner rather than later. When you bear in mind the potentially large medical costs associated with some of the more serious angle griding injuries, this is often the most appropriate course of action for all parties.
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There will be times where negligence is contested by the defendant or perhaps there is more than one party involved. In these situations it is likely that the angle grinding accident claim will go to court with a judge making an informed decision after taking into account evidence presented by the claimant and defendant. In cases where more than one person/party may have been negligent, it is not the task of the claimant to prove individual levels of negligence, this is where the courts come in.
Compensation Awards In Angle Grinding Accident Claims
There are two specific types of compensation for angle grinding accidents which can be claimed as a consequence of an accident caused by negligence. They are better known as general damages (injuries) and special damages (expenses). General damages are in effect financial compensation for the injuries directly related to an accident such as:
- Mental trauma/anguish
- The victims pain and suffering
- Life altering injuries
While each angle grinding accident claim will be reviewed on its own merits, guidelines produced by the Judicial College are used by the courts and insurance companies as a basis for any compensation awards. These guidelines take into account historic compensation payments for similar types of injuries although the judge and insurance companies have a degree of discretion/variation, to reflect the nature of each individual claim. In theory the amount of general damages in angle grinding injury claims is an open-ended figure but in practice the Judicial College guidelines are recognised by all parties.
Special damages for an angle grinder accident are very different to general damages in that they are simply recompense for costs incurred and future funding requirements. These deal with an array of issues such as:
- Loss of income
- Calculated potential future loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Calculated potential future medical expenses
- Extra transport costs
- Adaptions/alterations to the home
There will be no discretion/variation with regards to special damages and any future funding requirements will be calculated using the experience of relevant individuals such as medical practitioners. When you bear in mind the range of injuries which can be received from using an angle grinder it is not difficult to see how the accumulation of general damages and special damages can lead to significant compensation awards.
Improving Angle Grinder Safety
Even though there is an inherent risk of danger when using devices such as angle grinders, this should in no way shape or form mitigate the legally binding duty of care that employers have towards employees. All safety precautions should be taken as a matter of course, safety equipment made available and the working environment should also offer a degree of protection. While many people focus on the actual compensation settlement, history shows that unless corporate entities feel the financial pinch of a compensation claim, they are unlikely to change their working procedures.
As a consequence, while the compensation awarded to individuals suffering injuries tends to grab the headlines, we should not lose sight of the long-term gradual improvement in workplace safety that compensation claims tend to encourage.
If you’ve had an angle grinder accident and received injuries because somebody has been negligent please get in touch and we can provide expert advice on angle grinding accident claims today.