Probably the most common cause of an accident at work is the lack of training and safety equipment provided to an employee. Each employee should expect to be given the tools they need to do their job safely and free from harm.

It is their employers’ duty to provide these things; if they do not do so, they are breaching their duty of care. As employers are legally required to have insurance for these negligent acts by the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act, every employee is able to recover compensation if their employer has breached their duty of care.

Health and safety at work

The law requires an employer to provide adequate protection for a worker.

Accident at work

We acted for a young client recently who was employed as a shop till worker. During the course of his employment, he was often asked to help customers carry their purchases to their car. It was when he was fulfilling one such request when he suffered his accident at work. He was carrying a heavy metal parasol base to a customer’s car when the packaging gave way, letting the product fall through the bottom and land on his toe.

When he went back inside and removed his shoe, he noticed that his sock was bloody and the nail was barely attached. A colleague filled out the accident at work form and he was taken straight to A&E for a scan on his foot. Whilst the doctors initially thought there was a fracture, a specialist confirmed that he had luckily escaped fracturing the bones in his toe.

Nevertheless, our client had suffered a very painful crush injury and the loss of his nail. He was unable to wear any kind of closed shoe for six weeks after his accident as enclosing the swollen foot would only have led to more pain. He also suffered permanent hyperaesthesia in the toe, a condition that makes the area much more sensitive.

Breached duty of care

The breach of duty of care in this case was down to the fact that our client had never been given training for the act of carrying large heavy objects. Further to this, he was never provided with protective clothing such as steel toe-capped shoes which would have prevented his injuries. As the store knew he would be carrying heavy objects at times, it had breached its duty of care to him.

Our client had taken periodic photographs of his injury from the outset, from the moment he was injured up to being examined by a medical expert to prepare a report on his case. This kind of evidence is valuable in any case, not just accident at work claims. It allows the development of symptoms to be logged and the length of recovery for injuries like lacerations and bruising to be determined.

The claim was settled and our client was awarded compensation for his accident at work injuries. The duty of care to our client was breached by his employers and therefore he was entitled to compensation; hopefully his employers will have used his injury as a lesson and implemented safer working practices across their store.