It is a fact of life that accidents happen at work, particularly if you work in a high-risk industry such as construction or agriculture. However, if your employer fails to ensure the equipment you use is safe and you are injured as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.

Martin White, a Partner in the Personal Injury department at WBW Solicitors in Exmouth, explains an employer’s legal duty to keep their workers safe and outlines how you might claim compensation if they breach this duty.

Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, duties are placed on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. These duties apply to businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.

The regulations require that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • suitable for the intended use;
  • safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is properly installed and does not later deteriorate;
  • used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training;
  • accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls; and
  • used in accordance with specific requirements.

Work equipment is defined widely and includes any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (including equipment which employees provide for their own use at work). The ‘use of work equipment’ includes any activity involving work equipment such as ‘starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing and cleaning’.

Other health and safety legislation also applies to some work equipment, in addition to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. For example, lifting equipment must also meet the requirements of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and pressure equipment must meet the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000.

Employers also have wide-ranging obligations to manage the risks associated with the particular equipment that you use, including taking account of the working conditions and health and safety risks when selecting work equipment and ensuring work equipment is only used for suitable purposes and is properly maintained. Everyone operating, supervising or managing the use of work equipment must be properly trained and kitted out with appropriate safety gear.

How a solicitor can help

If your employer has failed to abide by their obligations under health and safety laws and you are injured as a result, you should contact a specialist personal injury lawyer straight away. They will help you gather the evidence you need, including medical reports and witness statements, to prove your case, refer you to a medical expert to assess your injuries and the effect they have had on your life, and strive to secure you the financial settlement you deserve.

The compensation you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries and how long it takes you to recover, but could include damages for:

  • pain and suffering;
  • loss of earnings;
  • medical expenses;
  • loss of potential earnings;
  • out of pocket expenses;
  • adaptations required to your home.

For further information, please contact Martin White in the Personal Injury team on 01395 280388 or email  WBW Solicitors has offices in Newton Abbot, Paignton, Torquay, Bovey Tracey, Exeter, Launceston, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Honiton.