Compensation claims not restricted to high risk occupations

It is often mistakenly thought that personal injuries in the workplace only occur where high risk occupations are concerned – heavy machine operators, high-rise construction workers, fire fighters and so on. After all, exactly how dangerous is a ground floor call centre office? Unfortunately, accidents can and do occur in all types of workplace, so the answer is simply “as dangerous as anywhere else”. In fact, slips, trips and falls account for many of the compensation claims that arise after accidents at work, so it is by no means the case that heavy machinery or dangerous activities are required. As employers are under both a common law and statutory duty to protect their employees from harm in the workplace, it is appropriate that many instances of personal injuries result in compensation.

The point that accidents can occur anywhere, at any time and in any circumstances should never overshadow an issue surrounding negligence. Where the negligent actions or omissions of a person or company (organisation, group, etc.) have resulted in injury, it is important that the victims pursue their cases in the courts in order to secure damages and help to improve the health and safety of businesses generally. To gain a greater appreciation of some of the different types of workplaces involved in personal injury accidents, it is worth looking through the publications of the Health and Safety Executive.

According to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive, more than 10,000 work related accidents were reported by the road haulage, storage and warehousing industries for the period between 2007 and 2008. Sadly, in excess of 1,700 of these accidents were marked down as serious or causing major injuries, including bone fractures and limb amputations. In other incidents published by the Health and Safety Executive, it is clear that negligent employers do not merely face compensation claims from accident victims but are also very often heavily fined in the process. One firm – Maple Timber Frames – received a £16,000 fine after one of its employees fell five metres at its construction site in Tunbridge Wells. Although lucky to escape with his life, the accident victim sustained multiple injuries, including a fractured skull.

In one particularly frightening accident, Stephen Rizzotti, aged 42 years, sustained a broken back, pelvis and legs when a 500Kg waste container fell on top of him – from a height of 30ft. Understandably, the Health and Safety Executive was keen to come down heavily on Shell UK Oil Products and Dalprop, who were subsequently fined £116,666 (with costs of £16,204) and £83,333 (with costs of £11,115) respectively. Hertel UK, who installed the scaffolding and platforms in the workplace, were fined £83,333 and ordered to pay costs of £16,204. Considering that Mr. Rizzotti is now confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life, it is expected that he will receive a large compensation payout resulting from the negligence of those upon whom his safety depended.

Of course, not all accidents in the workplace involve broken bones and fractured skulls; indeed, the most common incidents fall under the radar of many media organisations as they simply involve trips, slips or falls. Claiming for compensation after an accident at work can be a difficult step forward but it is one that is necessary in order to address the failings of an employer. Personal injury claims also enable the victims of such accidents to receive compensation that goes some way towards repairing the damage inflicted upon them.

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