A guide to making a No Win No Fee building site contractor accident claim
Although there have been significant reductions in the numbers and rates of injury over the last 20 years, with an average of 75 workers a week having sustained a serious injury on a building site in 2013/14, construction remains a high risk industry.
But with 40% of the workforce self-employed, a mix of contractors, sub-contractors, self-employed workers, independent contractors, agency workers and casual labourers may be at work on a building site.
Who is responsible for contractors' safety, and who is responsible if a contractor on a building site is injured?
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
All employers have a duty to ensure the safety of workers. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to plan, control, organise, monitor and review their work to manage health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Furthermore, revised legislation - Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) - came into force on 6 April 2015. CDM 2015 stipulates:
The principal contractor for every construction project must draw up a construction phase plan. He must have the skills, knowledge, experience, and where relevant, organisational capability to manage health and safety risks during the construction phase.
Contractors who carry out the actual construction work - individuals or companies - must plan, manage and monitor construction work under their control so it is carried out without risks to health and safety. Where a project involves more than one contractor activities must be co-ordinated with others in the project team.
- Be consulted about matters that affect their health, safety and welfare
- Take care of their own health and safety, and of others who might be affected by their actions
- Report anything they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others health and safety
- Co-operate with their employer, fellow workers, contractors and other duty holders
Health and Safety in Construction HSG150, published by the HSE, details exactly the measures required to prevent accidents in all aspects of this hazardous industry.
What happens if someone has an accident?
Any contractor, sub-contractor, self-employed or a worker involved in an accident on a building site should:
- Report the accident to his employers or principal contractor and complete the site health and safety procedure (accident book)
- Make notes as soon as practicable about the accident, photograph the accident scene and injuries sustained if possible.
- Take names and contact details of any witnesses.
- Seek medical advice and make notes of every aspect of that advice.
- Report the accident to the HSE or relevant authority
Who should a Claimant bring a claim against?
On a building site the employment status of the workers may affect who has responsibility for some aspects of health and safety and the provision of safety equipment. Therefore it is important to determine whether the Claimant is regarded as an employee, self-employed or a contractor.
Generally when a worker sustains a workplace injury the insurance cover is provided through the mandatory Employers Liability insurance. This applies to employees, contractors, casual workers or temporary staff, but not the self-employed.
In the construction industry where employers engage independent contractors, sub-contractors or agencies who agree to provide their own insurance for themselves and their workers, there may be a chain of two or three people responsible for contracting the Claimant. Each may have some liability for the Claimants injuries.
Next steps and further information
Employers liability and occupier's liability insurance issues can get complicated in the case of a building site accident involving a self-employed contractor. Which party (or parties) a claim is made against, and whether a claim can be made at all, is often dependent of the circumstances of the accident.
To discuss your options with a solicitor or for a free consultation, call 0800 612 7456.