Can I still claim if I am injured working in a high-risk industry?

Man working in dangerous industry

Some workers in high-risk industries worry that, because their work is inherently dangerous, it is harder to claim injury compensation if they are injured at work. This is not the case.

All employers owe a duty of care to their workforce, and must take reasonable steps to protect workers from avoidable injury and illness. If a job or work environment is more dangerous, the employer is expected to take additional steps to provide a safe working environment.

What industries are considered high-risk?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for monitoring the safety of the whole UK workforce. HSE data for 2022/23 has identified the following industries as most dangerous:

Industry Non-fatal injuries per 100,000 workers
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 3,730
Construction 2,640
Accommodation and food services 2,500
Wholesale and retail trade 1,960
Transportation 1,860

Construction saw the highest total of fatal injuries at 45. Agriculture, forestry and fishing had a total of 21 fatal accidents. However, given there are many more construction-related workers in the UK compared to agricultural workers, 21 deaths represents a much higher rate.

Agriculture hazards

The HSE recognise that farming is a dangerous industry, and provide specific guidance to farm operators and employers.

Farm workers use a variety of mechanised, dangerous machinery on a daily basis, handle hazardous chemicals, work with livestock capable of causing serious injury, and frequently work at height and are at risk of manual handling injuries.
If you have been injured working on a farm, whether as an employee or casual labourer, you have a right to claim compensation.

Read more:

Farm injury compensation claims

Hazards in the construction industry

Working at height and manual handling hazards are also common in the construction industry, along with risks associated with operating power tools, heavy plant and working with electricity, earthworks and a range of other dangers.

The HSE provide a range of guidance to support workers and site managers in the planning, managing and monitoring of these hazards.

Read more:

Building site injury claims

I work in a high-risk industry, what are my rights after an accident?

If your accident occurred as the result of your employer’s negligence, you have the same right as any other worker to claim compensation for your injuries.

Further, your employer must report the accident under RIDDOR, and even more minor breaches in certain industries must be reported to the HSE.

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, you are protected from unfair treatment and from being fired following your injury. Your employer also cannot dismiss you for starting an injury claim. If you must take time off work to recover, you are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP), at a minimum, and your contract may specify a higher rate of sick pay.

My employer says I agreed to do a dangerous task, can I still claim?

Under UK law, you cannot waive your right to expect a safe working environment. Even if you were injured performing a dangerous task at work, you will likely still be entitled to claim compensation.

Key legislation, like the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, requires that workers cannot be forced to work in unsafe conditions. Any written or oral agreement between you and your employer that compromises your safety is unlikely to be enforceable.

If your employer failed to provide you with the correct training, PPE or equipment to carry out the task safely, it is likely they have breached their duty of care towards you, and are likely to be negligent.

Your employer may still be liable even if you were asked to perform a task by a colleague, or attempted to complete a dangerous job yourself without supervision.

Read more:

What is vicarious liability?

I work in a dangerous industry, but am a self-employed contractor, can I still claim?

As a self-employed contractor, you are expected to be responsible for some aspects of your own health and safety. However, you may still be able to claim compensation if you were injured due to the negligence of another party that owed you a duty of care, such as a site operator or farm employer.

Depending on the industry, many health and safety protections that exist to protect salaried workers will also apply to contractors and site visitors, and an operator will usually be liable for injuries arising from a breach of specific regulations and legislation.

Read more:

Can I make an injury claim if I am self-employed?

Legislation that protects workers in high-risk industries

In the UK, a wide range of specific laws and regulations exist to protect workers in dangerous, higher risk jobs. These include:

  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 - These regulations apply to the construction industry, setting out requirements for the planning, managing and monitoring of construction-related work.
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 - Sets out how employees must protect workers from exposure to harmful substances, including those in chemicals manufacturing and waste management.
  • Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 - These apply to workplaces where explosive and flammable materials are commonly used, including factories.
  • The Mines Regulations 2014 - The regulations modernise existing laws, and specify how mining risks must be managed and controlled, including ventilation and emergency escape routes.
  • Work at Height Regulations 2005 - Specify how working at height must be trained, planned and managed for any industry, from window cleaning to telecoms and construction.
  • Offshore Installations (Offshore Safety Directive) (Safety Case etc.) Regulations 2015 - These regulations apply to offshore workers in the oil and gas industry. In addition, the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 and the Approved Code of Practice also protect underwater workers.

If your employer (or the party responsible for managing your workplace) has failed to fulfil their specific obligations under a given piece of legislation, and you were injured as a result of the breach, you are likely to have a stronger claim for work injury compensation.

Starting a work accident claim

The first step is to contact a solicitor for a FREE initial claim assessment.

You can find out if you have a claim in minutes by speaking to a legally trained advisor on 0800 376 1001. Your solicitor will put no pressure on you to proceed with a claim.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee work accident claim, we are open:

Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9:30am-5pm

Alternatively, you can arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

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Chris Salmon, Director

Author:
Chris Salmon, Director