“At the Health and Safety Executive, we believe everyone has the right to come home safe and well from their job. That’s why our mission is to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health.” – quote taken from the Health and Safety Executive website.
What is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)?
The HSE was founded in 1975. It’s coming into being was 200 years in the making. The HSE website is a library of useful information for employers. It portrays an organisation that is trying to work with employers, as opposed to being against them. In other words, it’s an organisation that is trying to achieve its principal aim of preventing;
‘work-related death, injury and ill-health.’
Even in these days of tight regulation of workplaces, last year there were;
- 4 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
- 2523 deaths from mesothelioma due to past asbestos exposure
- 147 workers killed at work
- 555,000 injuries at work according to the Labour Force Survey
- 71000 people reporting injuries to RIDDOR (accident at work reporting body)
Why do some people who are injured in accidents at work not make claims?
We still find that many people who have suffered genuine workplace injuries are put off from making an accident at work claim. There are several reasons for this;
- They fear that they will get sacked by their employer for making a claim against them.
- They are put off from doing so because they think that it is morally wrong to make compensation claims.
- They have become used to reading and seeing stories in the newspapers and on TV about ‘the compensation culture’, ‘fraudulent claims’ or about the UK being the ‘whiplash capital of the world’. The effect is that when some people do get injured in accidents at work, they feel too embarrassed to make a claim, for fear of being ridiculed or criticised or because they think it is somehow wrong to do so.
Two myths about making an accident at work claim
Myth No 1 I will get sacked for making a compensation claim
Making a personal injury claim against an employer is not a legal reason for that employer to sack you. Subject to a qualifying period of employment (usually a minimum of 2 years) you may even be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal if they did sack you for the sole reason of making a claim against them.
Equally, if your employer was to make life difficult for you by changing your working conditions, because you had made a claim against them, you may be able to bring a claim for constructive dismissal if things get so bad at work that you feel you can’t continue and walk out (subject to the 2 years continuous employment rule).
Your employer owes you a duty of care whilst you are at work. If they breach that duty and you suffer an injury at work, then you are quite within your rights to bring a personal injury claim against them. Employers are obliged by law to have employer’s liability insurance in place. In the event of a successful claim being made against the company, it is the insurance company that would make any compensation payment.
Most of our clients who have made successful workplace injury claims against their employers, continue to work for the same business on an amicable basis, both whilst the claim is ongoing and long after it has settled.
Myth 2 It is morally wrong to make a claim
We believe that the only time that it is morally wrong to make a claim is when people attempt to make fraudulent claims i.e.
- When someone wants to claim for an accident that didn’t happen.
- When an accident did take place, but the person wanting to make the claim lies about the circumstances of it e.g. to try and make it appear that they were not at fault, when they were.
- A person has been involved in an accident that was not their fault, but they exaggerate the extent of the injuries that they suffered or wish to claim for injuries that they didn’t have.
If you’ve been genuinely injured in an accident at work, you have every right to make a claim for the injuries that you suffered and any other losses that you have incurred because of the accident.
It is easy to be influenced by the press. On occasions, they run stories and articles that can make it appear to be wrong to make an injury claim. Sometimes the message is conveyed subtly, sometimes less so.
What ‘The Sun’ has to say
The Sun newspaper recently published an article which took aim at the work that the HSE do. The title of the piece was as follows;
“Daft as a brush. Furniture maker to the stars banned from sweeping factory with broom after inspector’s brand it a health hazard.”
The article went on to describe how a furniture maker ‘to the stars’ had been ordered to stop sweeping his factory floor with a broom, because doing so might cause wood particles to become airborne. Instead, he was informed by the HSE that he should use a vacuum to remove the wood dust from the floor.
The employer featured in the Sun’s article was quoted as saying;
“Using commercial vacuums means power cables will be running everywhere, no doubt causing a bigger risk than my little old broomstick ever poses. This is the sort of rot that makes companies move manufacturing abroad.”
The paper then went on to run a poll asking its readers whether they backed the HSE’s stance and where one of the options was;
“No – it’s nonsense.”
In fact, wood dust is known to cause occupational asthma. It has been identified as a group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. There is a link between inhaling wood dust and nasal adenocarcinoma (a head and neck cancer). There is moderate evidence that wood dust causes lung cancer too.
Reason enough, one, therefore, assumes, for ensuring that employees who regularly work in the woodworking industry should not be subjected to the risk of inhaling wood dust. Equally good reason too for insisting that the employer use the safest and most efficient method of removing wood dust from the floor.
Between 2008 and 2012, wood dust was the fourth most common cause of occupational asthma in the UK.
The Sun itself quoted an HSE spokesman as saying:
“Prolonged exposure to high levels of wood dust is known to be one of the direct causes of the high number of cases of occupational asthma and nasal cancer suffered by people in the woodworking industry.”
What was ‘The Sun’s’ opinion?
“THE meddling bureaucrats of the Health and Safety Executive have come up with their most ridiculous ruling yet after they told a master furniture designer to stop sweeping out his factory with a broom.
Brooms a health hazard? Quick, alert the families who have used them for generations. It’s this sort of nanny-knows-best, fearful attitude that gives health and safety a terrible reputation.
Let’s sweep away this cowardice and get a bit more common sense.”
Often the public’s perception of making personal injury claims and of health and safety at work regulations can be swayed by what they read in the newspapers. In some sections of the Press, health and safety at work regulations are often portrayed as being evidence of the existence of a ‘nanny state’.
An alternative view is that employment law regulations are vital in ensuring that employees are kept safe whilst carrying out their duties, at their place of work!
Mooneerams Accident at Work Claims
No one expects to go to work and get injured because of the negligence or carelessness of their employer. Everyone has the right to expect that they are kept safe at work. If an employee suffers an accident at work that was the fault of their employer, they have the right to make a workplace accident claim. They also have the right not to feel guilty about making that claim.
If you’ve had an accident at work, but you are unsure whether to claim, call us here at Mooneerams Solicitors in Cardiff on 029 2048 3615. We’ve been helping people to recover accident at work injury compensation for 17 years. Our expert workplace accident solicitors will take your call. They’ll discuss the circumstances of your accident and take details of the injury, plus any other losses, that you have sustained. Then they’ll give you free, no-obligation advice on whether they think you have a claim or not.
After discussing your case with them, if our solicitors believe that you have reasonable prospects of making a successful claim, the choice on whether to make a claim or not will be yours. Our solicitors will not try to influence you. If you decide to make a claim and would like us to take your claim on, then in most circumstances, we’ll be able to assist you by using a No Win No Fee agreement.
Call now on 029 2048 3615 or contact us online.
Alistair Worth is the Managing Director of Mooneerams, specialist personal injury solicitors. Alistair is based in the Cardiff office. He is an expert in all aspects of personal injury compensation claims.
Mooneerams also have offices in Aberdare, Caerphilly, Rhondda, Pontypridd and Bridgend.
Alistair was born in the area and has lived locally all his life. He cares passionately about the community, both business and social.
Mooneerams are active supporters of many grassroots projects in the region. You can contact Alistair and his team on 029 2048 3615 or use this contact form to email us.