A guide to making a No Win No Fee work canteen accident claim
Workers have a legal right to a safe workplace. The definition of workplace generally includes social areas such as the staff canteen. If an accident does occur in a staff canteen, a claim for compensation against the employer can usually be made.
Canteens are recognised by the Health and Safety Executive as a frequent source of both minor and serious injuries. Risks include spillages which, left uncleared, may cause slip accidents. Accidents and negligence in a work kitchen can result in burns, scalds and food poisoning.
Whether a claim can be made will depend upon the nature of the accident and the circumstances surrounding the accident. A claim can in most cases be made where the injuries were caused by an employer's negligent action or inaction.
What are the duties of employers relating to workplace canteens?
Employers have a legal duty to keep their employees safe from harm in the workplace. This duty of care applies to a work canteen just as much as it applies to a factory floor.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, for example, requires employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to control slip, trip, burn, scald and other risks.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess workplace risks and, where necessary, take action to minimise the risk of injury.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be maintained in good, safe condition and free from obstructions that may cause a person to slip, trip or fall. To comply with the Regulations, employers are expected to regularly inspect the area for hazards and clear them as quickly as possible. Warning signs should be positioned to alert people to possible spillages or slippery surfaces.
When it comes to food safety, anyone who prepares food must comply with The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (equivalent regulations apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). These rules set out the basic food safety requirements for all types of food outlets and can form the basis of a claim if it can be demonstrated that the work canteen was responsible for causing the food poisoning due to failures in food purchasing, storage, preparation or general hygiene.
Is the employer liable?
Any inadequate health and safety practice that results in an employee being injured may expose an employer to a claim for personal injury compensation.
Employers are expected to have adequate health and safety checks and procedures in place to prevent slips, scalds, food poisoning and other injuries.
Even if the accident is caused by a co-worker, for example, a member of the canteen staff accidentally spills a hot drink on someone, the employer may be vicariously liable for the employee's negligence. The injury lawyer must simply show that:
- The accident was due to the employer's negligence; and
- The Claimant suffered injury as a result
For more information, or to discuss your options with a specialist solicitor, call Quittance on 0800 612 7456.