Aside from the legally binding “duty of care” that all employers have towards their employees, there are specific pieces of legislation which protect the health and safety of employees and to a certain extent employers. The central act of Parliament is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which dictates that initial and continuous training should be given to all employees. We also have the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which covers in more detail the requirement for initial and ongoing training for all employees. There are also many other acts of Parliament which take in the likes of working equipment, hazardous substances, asbestos, first-aid cover and many more potentially dangerous situations in the workplace.
On the surface, everything seems to be against the employer and in favour of the employee but this is not necessarily the case. These acts of Parliament oblige employers to put in place various training programs which employees are obliged to respect. If an employer is able to prove that sufficient training was given to an employee who suffered an injury, amid suggestions the level of training was inadequate, then this would mitigate any inadequate training claims for compensation. It is perhaps not as black and white as it seems because in certain circumstances there may be partial negligence but on the whole the defence that sufficient training was given is a plausible counteraction to a inadequate training compensation claim.
Common Injuries Due To Inadequate Training In The Workplace
In reality the potential type and severity of injuries that can occur in the workplace are enormous. It does not matter whether you work in a relatively quiet office or out on the busy shop floor, training is required as there will always be a degree of danger. Some of the more common injuries due to inadequate training in the workplace include:
- Falls from a height due to a lack of training when using ladders, scaffolding and other similar equipment.
- Insufficient training in the area of lifting techniques which can lead to significant back problems and other physical ailments.
- Electric shocks are extremely common in many industries due to a lack of understanding brought on by inadequate training.
- Liquid and chemical burns as a consequence of not knowing how to handle potentially hazardous materials.
- Long-term health issues can emerge where insufficient safety equipment is available or lack of training has been given – historic examples include the use of asbestos and the associated health conditions.
- Injuries as a consequence of the misuse of machinery/tools which can vary in severity from simple cuts and scratches to death in some circumstances.
Thankfully there have been significant improvements in UK corporate health and safety although there is still much work to be done. Employers and employees need to be constantly reminded of their specific obligations when it comes to health and safety in the workplace. It is extremely dangerous to assume that certain working environments such as, for example a quiet office, offer very little in the way a potential danger to employees. Where there is electricity there is the danger of electric shock, where there is heavy equipment there is the danger of crush injuries and back complaints to name but a few.
Proving Negligence In Inadequate Training Compensation Claims
In order for any personal injury claim for inadequate training in the workplace to be successful there needs to be a defined element of negligence by the underlying employer. Evidence needs to be presented which shows that an employer was negligent beyond all reasonable doubt resulting in an injury or illness to a third party. As well as initial and ongoing training for all employees, all employers must have in place a procedure in the event of an accident in the workplace. There should be personnel available who have first-aid experience even if this is just to ensure the illness or injury does not worsen before the paramedics arrived.
Each individual compensation claim for inadequate training in the workplace will be considered on its own merits but some of the more common cases of negligence include any one of the following situations. An inability to:
- Identify basic health and safety requirements for an individual business.
- Ensure that all personnel are trained and experienced to carry out their specific employment role.
- Consider the suitability of individual employees to do a particular task.
- Deliver a level of training which is easy to understand, appropriate for specific employees and a reluctance to check that all training has been fully understood.
- Ensure that all employees are legally qualified for specific roles.
- Provide suitably experienced supervisors.
- Deliver suitable training taking into account the changing regulatory and legal environment.
While specific examples of negligence may be difficult to prove in some cases, there are other ways to address potential problems with inadequate training. Perhaps the most obvious is the company’s accident book which will note all accidents on the premises, date, individuals involved and the injuries. It is possible to build of a pattern of similar injuries which can perhaps be related to inadequacies in the training programme.
It is also advisable to look at the company’s health and safety information, medical records and specific training programs to get an all-round picture of the situation. Any witness statements backing your inadequate training claim for compensation will also help.
Staking Your Claim To Inadequate Training In The Workplace Compensation
It goes without saying that the first port of call in the event of an injury due to inadequate training should be medical assistance even if this is simply a check-up to ensure no serious harm. In cases of severe injuries there may be a need to call medical assistance to the workplace while in other situations a simple check-up by your doctor should suffice. As well as ensuring that the relevant treatment is received as soon as possible, medical records can prove very useful if pursuing compensation for an accident at work. Medical reports will include details of the injury, the place, the time and any other observations as well as any treatment required. As they are produced by an independent third-party with medical experience they can prove to be extremely strong evidence in the court room should it get that far.
Even though there is in theory a three-year window of opportunity to pursue a claim for compensation, it makes sense to present your case as soon as possible. It is therefore important that a full and detailed account of the injury, the circumstances and the examples of potential negligence are noted as soon as possible. Over time it is very easy for details to become faded in the memory, incorrect information presented in the case file which can in some circumstances result in failure. Witness statements, photographs and any other evidence to support your claim for compensation should also be presented to you your accident at work solicitor.
Solicitors who specialise in accidents at work will have experience in cases of claims for injuries caused by inadequate training and should be able to advise you of the strength of your case relatively quickly. Assuming your case is valid and has the required supporting evidence you will probably be offered a No Win No fee arrangement covering the legal expenses of your solicitor. In many cases where negligence is fairly obvious, an out-of-court settlement may be suggested by the defendant to avoid additional legal costs. In the event of disputed negligence or potentially shared negligence the case will likely go before a judge with all evidence and counter evidence presented.
General Damages And Special Damages Compensation
Many people will not be aware but there are two specific types of compensation available when pursuing a claim for inadequate training in the workplace compensation. These are referred to as general damages and special damages. The element of general damages covers:
- The level of pain and suffering you’ve suffered
- Life altering injuries
- Mental trauma
While compensation relating to these specific elements can accumulate substantially the courts tend to use previous examples of similar awards on which to base their rulings. So, in theory there is a degree of discretion which will reflect the specific circumstances of the injury due to insufficient training, and subsequent trauma. The subject of special damages is to all intents and purposes reimbursement of costs directly associated with an injury and any future expenses. This would include the likes of:
- Loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Adaptions to the home
- Additional transport expenses
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
All future expenses will be based upon evidence from experienced individuals such as doctors in the case of forecast medical expenses. In the initial compensation claim an amount of compensation will be included and so long as this is backed up by the relevant experts there is no reason to believe the courts will dispute this.
If you have had inadequate training in the workplace and been injured because of this please contact us to speak with an accident at work solicitor for free advice on claiming compensation.