A Guide to Claiming Health and Safety Breach Injury Compensation

The following guide sets out what you need to know about making a health and safety breach-related injury compensation claim.


According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2013/14 approximately 1.2 million people were suffering from a work-related illness or injury. In a large majority of these cases, the cause is an accident, or insufficient working conditions, which resulted from a breach of health and safety.

As all employers are legally bound to ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace - as stipulated, primarily, in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 - if they are negligent in doing so, a compensation claim could be brought against them.

Do I have a health and safety breach injury claim?

You should be eligible to make a health and safety breach injury claim if you sustained an injury:

  • within the last three years and,
  • another person was to blame.

However, if these two points don't apply, a compensation claim may still be a possibility.

It only takes a minute to find out - you can speak to one of our experts on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. We will not put you under pressure to make a compensation claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

What if the injury was diagnosed years after the event?

Typically, the dates of the injury and accident are the same. However, some injuries manifest themselves months or even years after the accident or exposure.

In this case, the clock starts ticking on the date of discovery (the date of diagnosis) of the injury rather than the date of the accident.

Read more

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How much compensation can I claim for a health and safety breach injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your health and safety breach injury will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your health and safety breach injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in general damages and special damages.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

See a list of what you can claim for:

Examples of special damages include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Find out what your claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Calculate my injury claim

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your health and safety breach injury case from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

What are the legal obligations of employers?

A wide range of legislation is in place to guide employers in ensuring that they are providing safe and healthy working conditions for their employees. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was also set up to help regulate and enforce it, which includes offering practical information on implementation.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

The basis of British health and safety law, this act has a number of clear provisions for ensuring workplace safety. These require employers, as far as is ‘reasonably practical' to:

  • Carry out full and ongoing risk assessments of work roles and the work environment
  • Implement adequate preventative measures and controls to avoid or minimise risk - including providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Appoint competent persons to help with implementation and ongoing inspections
  • Provide clear and regular instruction and training to employees on the risks and control measures
  • Set up emergency and accident reporting procedures
  • Work together with other employers sharing the same workplace

In addition, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 helps guide how this is applied.

Other more specific legislation aimed at ensuring health and safety at work includes: Noise at Work Regulations 1989; Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH); The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994; The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 1992; Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998; The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

With the legal framework and practical information available to employers, there is no reason why breaches of health and safety should occur. So, any injury received or ill health suffered should be reported and changes made. And, importantly, any person affected is encouraged to make a claim.

Typical injuries and illnesses

Health and safety breach claims encompass a wide reaching range of illness and injury. Essentially, they include any possible accident or illness that could occur across all industries.

According to a recent report by the HSE, the most frequent causes of workplace injury are manual handling and slips, trips and falls from height. Of all workplace injuries occurring, manual occupations have the highest rates, with sewerage and waste supply, agriculture, construction and transport being the most likely industries to sustain them.

In the same report, the HSE categorised the most common types of work related health conditions as:

  • Stress
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Skin disease
  • Asthma

They also identified long latency conditions which can be caused by previous work activity and often appear years after exposure. These are:

  • Asbestos related disease
  • Work related hearing loss
  • Cancers Vibration-related disease
  • Other respiratory disease

For each condition, there are higher reported cases amongst certain industries or work environments. For example, work related musculoskeletal disorders are common in construction and healthcare, whilst respiratory diseases are more likely amongst those who work with certain fumes, gases and dusts.

Skin diseases occur more often in people working as florists, hairdressers or cooks, whereas cancers come most often from construction, shift work or exposure to mineral oils, solar radiation or silica.

Safety breaches could be relatively minor, such as not regularly mopping wet floors or the providing the correct type of gloves. They can also be more serious, for example failing to erect scaffolding correctly or to carry-out correct training for a large piece of machinery with dangerous moving parts. But no matter the perceived size of the safety breach, the implications for an individual who suffers an injury or illness as a result of it can be huge.

Proving liability for a successful claim

If an individual has been injured or made sick at work, they must be able to prove first that the employer did make a breach of health and safety - that they were negligent - and second, that the breach of safety directly contributed to the illness/injury.

To do this, relevant information would need to be gathered as evidence such as: medical reports citing symptoms, treatment and prognosis; accident book reports; company health and safety information; witnesses to any accident or identified procedure or lack of; and photographs. A solicitor can help advise on what exactly is required for each individual case.

As complaints can be so vastly different - from headaches and hearing loss to muscle pain, broken bones and long-term illnesses - as well as varying greatly in the effect they have on a person's life, so too does the amount of compensation fluctuate depending on the case.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

At work

If you are thinking of making a work accident or injury claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Work Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a public place (e.g. supermarket, pavement)

If you have been injured in a public place, there are some key points you need to be aware of:

Public Place Claims - What you need to know

Other claim types

Find details on another type of claim:

See list of other claims

How does no win, no fee work?

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any legal fees if your health and safety breach injury claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.

No win, no fee guarantee

If you have been injured and it wasn't your fault, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a health and safety breach injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my health and safety breach injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my health and safety breach injury claim?

If your health and safety breach injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever.

Read more about how no win, no fee works

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning work accident claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Health And Safety Breach Injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an interim compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

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