Even in the best designed warehouses there are still hazards for employees and visitors which can often result in injury leading to warehouse accident claims. While warehouses have always been an integral part of business, the explosion in online retail has led to greater requirements for warehouse storage facilities and staff. Even though Health and Safety standards have greatly improved in recent times injuries in warehouses still occur because of negligence for which warehouse accident claims for compensation can be pursued.
Common Accidents And Injuries In Warehouses
As you might expect, there are a number of injuries which occur on a regular basis in relation to employees working in warehouses. They include the likes of:
- Warehouse Forklift truck accidents.
- Injuries caused by falling objects.
- Slips, trips and falls in the warehouse.
We will now take a look at these particular warehouse accidents and injuries in more detail:
Warehouse Forklift Truck Accidents
Training is vital when it comes to operating forklift trucks in a warehouse. A warehouse may seem like a relatively safe environment to operate a forklift truck but in fact can be an environment which is very challenging. Trained and experienced employees must only be using a forklift truck in situations where they have the relevant experience and skills required. Operating a forklift truck is not as simple as it looks; it involves precision timing, precision positioning and the ability to negotiate often difficult floor space.
Injuries Caused By Falling Objects
Many of us will have seen the online footage of storage shelving collapsing in a concertina effect in large warehouses. This may look amusing to those looking from afar but the dangers of falling objects and falling storage equipment are real for employees on a day-to-day basis. Many warehouses stack their products and equipment to an extremely high height to maximise the use of space. On occasion this can result in relatively small or larger items falling from a great height, carrying with them a serious threat of injury.
Slips, Trips And Falls In The Warehouse
While the specific materials involved in slips, trips and falls will vary between different warehouses, they can often prove to be very challenging and cause serious injury. Issues as varied as cluttered floor space, poorly discarded packaging, spilt liquids such as paint and grease, slippery items such as plastic can cause issues for employees on foot and also those using lifting equipment. All employees have a duty to maintain a safe and tidy workspace with relevant procedures in place.
Falling From A Great Height
There are various regulations in place to protect those working at great heights which include the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (amended in 2007). By the very nature and structure of warehouses, employees will be asked on a regular basis to store and remove various products at great heights. It is fair to say that safety issues have been improved in recent years with the use of cherry pickers and other elevation machinery reducing the chances of employees falling from a great height. However, not all warehouse facilities are as safe as they should be and there have been instances of employees falling from a great height due to a lack of training, substandard machinery or other employer related issues for which a warehouse accident claim could be started.
The regulations deem that where possible working at great heights should be avoided although this is not always possible. Where there is no option other than to work relatively high off the ground, employees must be supplied with the relevant training and safety equipment. Employers are also obliged to carry out regular assessments of working at height to ensure that as much as possible has been done to avoid injury.
Manual Handling Injuries
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (amended in 2002) were introduced to protect workers from injuries received as a consequence of heavy lifting and manual handling. Employers are now legally obliged to minimise manual handling as much as possible, instead using lifting machinery such as forklift trucks, winches and other leverage devices. There will be situations when manual handling will be required which can sometimes result in back injuries, sprains, muscle strains and foot injuries. If the employer has been negligent then any employee injured during their work may well have a valid warehouse accident claim for compensation.
Duty Of Care Towards Warehouse Workers
All employees whether working in warehouse surroundings or traditional retail outlets, for example, are protected by a legal duty of care from their employers. While the vast majority of employers do abide by the regulations and guidelines we have seen a number of warehouse injury compensation claims based on common themes such as:
- Substandard training and lack of updates.
- Inadequately maintained machinery.
- Inexperienced warehouse staff carrying out inappropriate duties.
- Lack of regular warehouse safety reviews.
- Substandard or inappropriate safety equipment.
- Extended working hours.
- Lack of warehouse safety procedures.
- Minimal rest breaks.
Just because you agree to work in a particular environment does not mean to say that you have admonished your employer of their legal duty of care. As with any other accidents in the workplace, unless legitimate warehouse injury compensation claims are pursued, nothing is likely to change and others will likely suffer in the future.
Starting A Warehouse Accident Claim
If you have been injured working in a warehouse and you believe your employer was negligent in any way then you may have a valid warehouse accident claim for compensation. There is a relatively straightforward procedure you must follow in order to record your injuries and details of the accident. Obviously your first port of call will be medical attention where you will likely be examined and relevant treatment administered. This may initially be administered in the workplace, depending upon the type of injury, but at some point you should approach a medical professional for a full examination. This ensures that you receive the relevant treatment and your injuries and the circumstances in which they occurred are noted on your medical records.
As soon as possible you should also record details of the warehouse accident such as when it occurred, why it occurred, photographic evidence, witness statements and the full extent of your injuries. All accidents in the workplace should also be recorded in the works accident book and a relevant review carried out as soon as possible.
As soon as is practical you should approach a personal injury solicitor who specialises in accidents at work with details of your warehouse accident and the background to the incident. An experienced personal injury solicitor will be able to review your case in detail and advise whether you have a valid compensation claim going forward.
If your warehouse accident claim is valid then you are likely to be offered a No Win No Fee arrangement whereby any compensation claim would be split with the solicitor/ law firm on a predetermined basis. While lodging the claim the defendant must also be advised of the pending action and evidence backing up claims of negligence. In many cases the defendant will seek an out-of-court settlement where clear negligence has occurred to reduce legal costs going forward and bring the issue to a swift close.
There will be some warehouse accident claims which are disputed by the defendant and end up in front of a judge. The independent judge will make a ruling based upon prosecution and defence evidence and where negligence is proved appropriate compensation will be awarded. As we touched on above, in many ways pursuing valid compensation claims in the workplace will ensure that systems are changed and hopefully similar accidents will not be repeated in the future.
What Compensation May Be Claimed For In A Warehouse Accident Claim
When lodging a warehouse accident claim the claimant will also put forward a proposed level of compensation calculated by your solicitor that is relevant to the injuries incurred. There are two specific types of compensation which can be awarded which are general damages, in relation to:
- Pain and suffering caused by the injury.
- Mental trauma.
- Changes to the victims personality and lifestyle.
Over the years various guidelines have been put together in relation to specific ranges of compensation for specific types of injury. The actual compensation awarded will depend upon the details of each individual case as there is some variation on this particular issue.
The more straightforward type of compensation often available is referred to as special damages and relates to financial redress and financial obligations going forward. This will cover issues such as:
- Loss of earnings.
- Loss of future earnings.
- Medical expenses.
- Future medical expenses.
- Additional transport costs.
- Adaptions to the claimant’s home.
This gives you an example of the more common special damages awarded although they can vary quite widely depending upon the circumstances surrounding individual accidents. To get a professional and experienced opinion on what amount of compensation may be due if you have a warehouse accident claim call us for free on 0800 652 1345, 24/7.