Dangerous machinery injury compensation claims
In this guide we explain everything you should know about making a successful dangerous machinery compensation claim.
The Health and Safety Executive reported that 1568 major injuries in 2013/14 involved contact with machinery.
Machinery at work is often inherently dangerous. Even equipment that is relatively safe to use can become dangerous if it is poorly maintained or mishandled. Regardless of the nature or state of the machinery used by staff, employers owe their workers a duty of care to maintain a safe work environment at all times.
Machine-related injuries are often severe and can have a significant impact on a person's life. These injuries can also permanently affect an individual's ability to work.
Quittance's network of solicitors work hard to recover compensation needed by employees injured in work accidents to fund essential treatment, living costs and future care and rehabilitation.
If you were injured as a result of dangerous machinery in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.
We have assisted many workers and contractors make a claim
Missing or defective safety guards
Specific rules cover the safe guarding of dangerous machinery. Dangerous machinery will have been subjected to rigorous safety checks before it is considered safe for use.
Despite this, defective and unguarded machines cause accidents at work every day. In many cases, the accident is not caused by any defect in the machine itself but in the way it is maintained, used and guarded.
Where possible, employers must:
- provide fixed guards to dangerous components, e.g. rotating blades and sharp edges
- guard against the risk of injuries caused by debris thrown from the machinery
- ensure machinery is stopped before workers can access designated danger zones
- prioritise repairs, maintenance, risk assessment and training
Lathes are used in many workplaces and can be very dangerous if used by someone with inadequate training or not serviced frequently. The risk of accidents at work involving lathes is specifically recognised in legislation, lathes being a clear potential hazard to employees.
Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 confirms the following:
'(1) Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance with paragraph (2) which are effective-
(a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or
(b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone'.
This means that an employer has a duty of care to ensure that his employees are safe whilst using the machinery. An employer has a responsibility to maintain the lathe and take measures to avoid hazards, including:
- Providing information and training on how to safely operate the machinery
- Having clear and accessible stop controls
- Having suitable guards to enclose dangerous parts of machinery and stock-bars
- Enabling isolation from power source when exposure to dangerous parts is required e.g. maintenance work
Generally, the machine should be well maintained and in good working order. If these standards are not followed and an employee has an accident on the machine, such as getting their hand caught, then the employee may be entitled to make a personal injury claim.
Conveyor belt accidents
Employees who are using conveyor belts should be given training that facilitates their safe use. They should understand how to use the belt, and what to do if there is a malfunction.
Organisations that are responsible for staff using conveyor belts must:
- provide suitable training to operators
- ensure dangerous parts are not exposed, and protected by the use of guards or covers where needed
Whether you are an employee, customer, or site visitor, if you have been injured because of an accident involving a conveyor belt, you may be entitled to compensation.
Log splitter injuries
The HSE have investigated several incidences of people being injured by log splitters. According to the HSE, accidents involving log splitters or 'firewood processing machines' are often the result of a lack of training regarding their safe use, or inadequate protective equipment.
The Health and Safety Executive recently questioned the safety of firewood processing machines, and suggested that not all log splitters comply with the Machinery Directive (as implemented in the UK by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008).
Employers must also ensure that staff using log splitters understand how to do so in a manner that does not endanger their own safety, or that of others in the vicinity. A work accident claim may be made if an employer has failed in this duty.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Employers have a strict duty to provide suitable equipment for their employees.
It is an employer's responsibility to ensure that all work machinery is safe to use, well-maintained and that staff are trained in its use.
The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 places a duty of care on employers to ensure that:
- Safety measures are in place and enforced
- Machines are safe and fit for purpose
- Machines are used safely and correctly
These duties include:
- Performing regular maintenance of machinery
- Prioritising completion of essential repairs
- Carrying out risk assessments to ensure machinery is operated safely during work processes
- Training all staff using the machinery how to operate it safely and correctly
- Providing suitable protective clothing, and ensuring this is always worn by staff when operating machinery
If an employer fails to implement these safety measures, they are in breach of their duty of care. They could be found to be negligent and liable to pay compensation for injuries caused.
There are statutory time limitations for filing dangerous machinery claims. In the majority of cases, a claim must be started within three years of an accident.
If you are not sure whether you want to make a claim, a confidential consultation with a personal injury solicitor will give you valuable advice concerned medical treatment and the gathering of evidence.
Gathering evidence to support your claim
You can decide to proceed with your claim at a later date, if you wish, knowing that the evidence that will strengthen your claim is already collected.
One of the most important steps to take is to get a medical report. This will need to come from a qualified medical expert, but cannot be your GP. Your solicitor can advise further on this point.
The medical report will confirm the nature and extent of your injury, and will be one of the pieces of evidence needed to calculate your compensation.
Your solicitor will need to prove your injury was caused by the negligence of your employer. This may require specialist help, such as expert technicians to assess the safety of the machinery.
The compensation amount directly relates to the severity of the injury. Due to the kinds of injury dangerous machinery can cause, compensation awards can be high.
The Judicial College guidelines are used to calculate both Court awards and negotiated settlements. These guidelines specify the 'general damages' payable for pain, suffering and loss of amenity sustained following an accident involving dangerous equipment.
For example, the guidelines recommend an award of general damages between £23,430 and £50,050 for serious hand injury.
In addition, compensation is also paid for lost earnings, treatment and care costs and other expenses.
A No Win, No Fee compensation claim gets underway once the claimant agrees, with their solicitor, a "CFA", or Conditional Fee Agreement,.
The agreement sets out the work the lawyer will deliver and the "success fee" that will be taken from the award when your claim is successful.
Selecting a Quittance solicitor, you are able to focus on your recovery, knowing that there will be nothing to pay if your case is unsuccessful.
The national network of QLS solicitors handle all types of work accident claims, from more minor injury cases to life-changing injury. Our solicitors are chosen for their winning track record and their level of experience.
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert