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Faulty Work Equipment

Can I claim for a faulty work equipment injury?

Workers should be able to go to work in an environment which won’t cause injury or illness. So, if you’ve experienced a defective work equipment accident at work and suffered personal injury, this is very unfair.

However, employers have a legal duty of care to protect employees. If this duty is breached and you’ve been hurt in an accident at work, it is only right that you should be able to claim injury compensation from a negligent employer. It’s important to seek medical attention as early as you can if the injury caused was not your fault.

There are many ways an accident at work could happen in the workplace. Often, these accidents happen due to faulty equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained by your employer.

Accidents are also likely to happen in circumstances where employers are negligent or breach their statutory duties. If you have been injured in accident at work because of faulty equipment, through no fault of your own, you can make a faulty equipment injury claim.

To find out whether you could bring a no win no fee claim for compensation for faulty work equipment injuries, get in touch with an advisor on 0800 234 6438, or enter your details into this form and we can arrange for you to have specialist legal advice.


Of the 113 fatalities that occurred in workplace accidents in the UK in 2019-2020, 14% involved contact with moving machinery


What qualifies as ‘equipment’?

Faulty work equipment claims can be brought in relation to any injury or condition caused by defective equipment. Workers hurt in these types of accident can bring personal injury claims to recover compensation.

The legal meaning of ‘equipment’ for workplace injury purposes is surprisingly very wide-ranging – it is legally defined by equipment regulations as “any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work”. It includes the tools of trade in any sector and industry – in fact, the courts have previously stated that it means “almost any equipment used at work’ .

It’s hard to think of something in use in the workplace that doesn’t meet the definition of equipment. So, work equipment includes large pieces of machinery and plant, as well as small items such as mobile devices, and even stationery equipment which can cause electric shock. It also includes remote-controlled and self-propelled work equipment and other items.

If you have an injury sustained while using any type of equipment or tool at work, and it was someone else’s fault – you can seek compensation.

What kinds of faulty equipment lead to personal injury claims?

Unsurprisingly, the huge range of work equipment across the UK’s varying sectors and industries means that there are innumerable types of faulty or defective equipment. The most common types of faulty equipment include:

  • Plant on building and construction sites, such as drills, diggers, scaffolding and construction vehicles;
  • Office equipment, including furniture, photocopying machines and computers;
  • Tools of the hospitality trade, such as coffee machines, boilers, ovens and fryers;
  • Leisure industry equipment, including cinema seats, gym equipment and diving pools;
  • Factory and warehouse equipment, such as pickers and forklifts, conveyer belts and lathes – find out more about making a factory accident compensation claim.

It may surprise you to know that a failure to provide instructions or operating manuals can also amount to faulty or a defective equipment. Where an accident occurred because of errors in a manual, get in touch with our advisors.


Vue Cinemas was fined £750,000 in July 2019 after it admitted health and safety breaches that led to a movie-goer’s death. Ateeq Rafi, who was 24 when he died, was watching a movie when he bent down to pick up his mobile phone. His neck was trapped by the electronic footrest and staff had to remove bolts from the chair to free him. He was deprived of oxygen and died later in hospital. The trial judge said there was a complete lack of risk assessment.

SOURCE: The Guardian

Accidents involving faulty equipment

It would be impossible for an employer to eliminate every risk, as accidents can and do happen. But they do have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep you safe and make sure risks are as reduced wherever possible.

While no-fault accidents can happen involving faulty or defective work equipment, they are typically the result of employer failure of some kind.

If a piece of equipment was faulty – i.e. didn’t operate in the way it was intended to – and this defect was responsible for your injury, then you should be able to seek compensation to cover the effects your defective equipment injury has had on your life and finances.

DID YOU KNOW: Employers with more than five employees must have a written health and safety policy and a risk assessment of any aspects of the workplace which may be hazardous to either employees or visitors.

What types of injuries can be caused by a defective work equipment accident?

Faulty equipment can be extremely dangerous, posing a risk of potentially significant injury. The biggest risks include electrocution, limb amputations and crush injuries

That said, the fact is that the types of injuries resulting from faulty or defective work equipment can vary depending on the equipment involved and the circumstances that led to your injury. Examples of typical injuries from defective work equipment could include:

  • Serious cuts and amputations from cutting equipment
  • Blunt force injuries caused by falling items
  • Electric shock from loose wires or outlets
  • Burns from hot appliances and tools

While some accident cause minor injuries with short recovery times, faulty work equipment can also cause serious, long-lasting injuries. No matter how serious or minor your case is, you deserve to be compensated in a fair way if you’ve suffered due to an employer’s negligence.

The most serious incidents involving faulty equipment can result in death. In these tragic cases, the family has the right to bring a faulty equipment injury claim.

DID YOU KNOW: £16.2 billion was the estimated cost of injuries and ill health caused by current working conditions in the UK during 2018/19.

How much compensation could I claim?

Whether you’ve suffered minor or serious injuries sustained in an accident involving faulty machinery, your solicitors will help you claim the maximum compensation you deserve.

Your claim will include ‘general’ damages compensating you for your pain and suffering caused by defective equipment because your employer failed to protect you.

In such a claim, you can also claim ‘special’ damages for your financial losses, such as lost wages and other lost income, prescription costs, the cost of private medical treatment, rehabilitation and other costs.

If you are seriously injured in accident caused by defective equipment and you’re suffering financial hardship, you may be able to claim interim payments ahead of a final compensation award. However, interim payments can only be paid in the event of financial hardship if the other side accepts liability, but you can be assured your solicitor will work hard to ensure the negligent employer accepts responsibility.

Get in touch with us and we can arrange for a no win no fee claim under a conditional fee agreement, which removes the financial risk to you in making a claim.

What are the legal requirements of employers to keep workers safe?

The law provides robust protection for UK workers who use equipment and machines in the workplace. Employers have strict legal responsibilities and obligations to ensure the workplace is safe, including that work equipment is safe and fit for purpose.

They should also have procedures and processes in place to identify promptly any risks to health and to deal with problems in a timely way. These are known as ‘risk assessments’ and should be carried out regularly. In fact, one of the most common causes of injuries is the lack of a risk assessment.

The key employment law requirements that apply are:

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

This sets out the general responsibilities of all employers. It states that they have a duty to protect their employees’ health, safety and welfare – and that those who fail in this duty are liable for that accident or injury.

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)

These rules deal specifically with lifting equipment and reflect the inherent dangers specifically associated with this type of equipment. The LOLER requires, for example, that employers make sure all operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out safely.

Lifting equipment must also undergo regular ‘through examinations’ which must be followed by full records of the exam. Any detected defects must be reported not only to whoever is responsible for the equipment – but also to the relevant enforcing authority (either the local authority or the HSE).

The Pressure Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016

These cover pressure equipment with a maximum allowable pressure PS above 0.5 bar. They do not apply to equipment put on the market before 8 December 2016; or to situations where pressure equipment is assembled on the site of and under the responsibility of a user who was not the manufacturer.

The regulations detail specific safety requirements that employers must satisfy, and if they fail to do so, the risk of equipment injury increases.

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

Personal protective equipment is any equipment that protects workers from the risk of injury. This includes helmets, eye protection and safety footwear. However, note that these regulations do not apply to hearing protection or respiratory protective equipment.

Employers are required to ensure they select the right PPE for the job in hand, that it takes into account environmental conditions in which it is to be used and that it is fit for purpose. Workers should also have adequate instructions on how to use the PPE safely.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

These impose duties on both employers and employees in relation to their use of electricity in the workplace. Employers, for instance, must maintain electrical systems and carry out work on them to prevent danger

Machine Safety Regulations (MWR)

Employers must also take into account the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (as amended). These set out the requirements that must be met before machinery can be placed on the market in Great Britain or put into service. They must carry an appropriate CE mark (UKCA if post-1 January 2021) showing how the machinery meets essential safety requirements.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

These rules place many important duties on people and companies who own or have control over work equipment, and those who require employees to use equipment that might not be owned by them.

What duties does PUWER place on employers?

Defective work equipment can be extremely dangerous and the government imposed these important regulations to tighten up worker safety wherever equipment, tools and machinery is used to reduce the risk of faulty equipment injury. Since it was introduced in 1998, PUWER has become particularly important and is applicable to all equipment used in the workplace.

PUWER places specific duties on businesses, including:

  • Making sure work equipment is suitable and safe for its intended use (and is used only for its intended use);
  • Machines/equipment should only be used by those who have had adequate information, instruction and training and property safety measures should accompany each item of equipment;
  • Ensure equipment is safely installed and does not deteriorate. Inspections should take place both before and after installation;
  • It should confirm with appropriate conforming marking and properly labelled;
  • Workers who use the equipment must have adequate training and instruction, including information about potential risks inherent in using the equipment;
  • Equipment should be accompanied by appropriate protective devices, controls and clothing for operators/users, such as hard gloves, eye-guards/visors and helmets;
  • Appropriate hazard and warning signs should be erected or placed directly on the equipment;
  • Where equipment, particularly machines, have individual maintenance logs – such logs should be kept up-to-date;
  • Control panels and levers should be clearly identified and kept in good and safe working order;
  • Ensuring worker safety during maintenance and repair of the equipment is vital, eg completely shutting down the equipment and isolating it from any power source.

It is obvious how wide-ranging an employer’s responsibility is as far as work equipment is concerned. The risks are potentially so great that employers absolutely must implement clear processes and procedures governing how, and at what intervals they take all reasonable steps necessary to comply with PUWER and related regulations.

These requirements also apply to mobile equipment, so if your work takes you from business to business, or to domestic homes for installations, for instance, the rules apply just as much to the equipment you use in those places as they do on work premises.

The majority of employers do take their responsibilities extremely seriously – they want to protect the health of their workers and also their own reputation. But sometimes things can go wrong; and if there are any failings in these requirements and accidents happen causing injury, then faulty work equipment claims can follow.

It was my personal equipment that was faulty – can I still claim compensation?

Your employer’s health and safety responsibilities towards workers extends to equipment that does not actually belong to the business. This means that the fact that you were using your own equipment does not mean the employer escapes responsibility.

Importantly, PUWER specifically states that it covers equipment which employees provide for their own use at work.  It also includes other equipment used during the course of work that the employer itself does not own, for instance, if other workers have brought in their own tools or machines for others to use.

It is always sensible to tell your employer if you intend bringing in your own equipment to work or have brought it in, so that they can then carry out the necessary inspections. However, the ultimate responsibility lies with the business to ensure that:

  • All workers are required to inform the employer immediately if they bring in their own tools, machines or other equipment.
  • The employer promptly carries out appropriate safety tests and inspections before any such equipment is put to use in the workplace.

So if you have been injured while using your own, or another worker’s equipment in the workplace, your employer may be liable for your injuries.

Can I make a faulty equipment injury claim if I was injured while inspecting or cleaning it?

In short, yes: workers who are not actually operating or using the equipment but are simply cleaning or inspecting it, and get hurt in the process, can make faulty equipment claims.

The reasons is – regulations apply to the “use of work equipment” which is interpreted widely.  It means any activity involving work equipment, so it includes servicing, cleaning and maintaining the equipment; programming and setting a machine; repairing and modifying equipment; and even transporting it.

This means employers are legally expected to take appropriate measures to ensure maintenance operations, cleaning, inspection etc of work equipment can be done safely. Poor maintenance is a significant risk factor to the health of those who operate machinery.

All these activities involving work equipment, particularly machines and larger pieces of equipment, involve their own risks. It’s only fair that if a fault in the machine causes an equipment injury that the victim can make a claim for compensation.


A man was killed in an accident at work while repairing the high-pressure grease track adjusting mechanism on a piling rig while working on a Premier Inn construction site. While the repair was under way, a high-pressure stream of grease was ejected from the equipment fatally injuring 24-year-old Ben Whylie.

An HSE inspector said the accident could have been avoided had a risk assessment been undertaken and a safe system of work devised. The employer, Ruislip Plant, was fined £99,000 and ordered to pay £116,973 in costs.

SOURCE: The Construction Index

What is revealed by the latest workplace safety statistics?

Health and safety is a hotly debated topic, with some seeing these laws as red tape that burdens businesses – however, statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show just how important it is that there are rules in place to protect people from personal injury caused by defective equipment in an accident at work.

There were, for instance, 1.6 million working people suffering from a work-related illness in 2019-2020; and 142 workers were killed in 2021-2021 according to RIDDOR.  There are also an increasing number of non-fatal injuries in the workplace: in 2019-2020 693,000 workers reported non-fatal injuries – up from 581,000 on the year previously.


A casual worker on a farm was airlifted to hospital after his arm was pulled into a potato harvesting machine which had been brought back into use after years out of action. A section of the machine should have been guarded but wasn’t. The man’s fingers and forearm bones were broken and muscle from his forearm removed by the machine. The farmer was successfully prosecuted under PUWER and fined £5,000.



218 accidents were recorded at the Health and Safety Executive itself and 57 people required medical treatment after an accident in the five years to 2020. Accidents reportedly involved injuries from machines. One HSE worker fell from a faulty chair and was paid £1,500 in compensation.

SOURCE: The Times
DID YOU KNOW: Compensation will not come out of your employers’ pocket. Employers have a legal obligation to be covered for at least £5 million in liability insurance. It is this which will provide any compensation awarded following personal injury claims.

Proving your employer was negligent or breached its statutory duties

To make successful personal injury compensation claims, solicitors have to show that the employer was negligent and/or breached health and safety legislation. So for defective work equipment claims, the solicitor must prove:

  • That the fault in the equipment was caused by employer negligence or the employer knew about it;
  • That it was reasonably foreseeable that this fault would lead to an injury; and
  • That the injury was a direct result of the fault.

No matter how your personal injury or condition was caused, if it can be shown that it resulted from your employer’s negligence you should succeed in a compensation claim.

More often than not, faulty work equipment claims are based on breach of statutory duty – ie, breach of health and safety rules and regulations, because it’s usually easier to prove than a ‘pure’ negligence claim.

As explained above, employers have very clear and specific legal obligations to take the appropriate measures to minimise the risk of personal injury caused by defective work equipment. Proving a breach will require evidence demonstrating a breach, ie that your employer did not take appropriate steps to minimise the risk of injury following a defective equipment accident, even a failure to carry out risk assessments.

The evidence and information you will be asked for might include:

  • What the equipment was and who it belonged to
  • Full details of how the equipment was being used
  • Any records detailing medical treatment provided following the accident
  • An entry in the workplace accident book, and reports to the HSE
  • The contact details of people who witnessed the accident
  • If possible, photographic evidence of the circumstances of the accident
  • Any available CCTV footage (owners of a CCTV system, such as your employer, have a legal duty to provide this footage within 40 days of you putting a request to them)

It’s crucial that the strongest possible evidence and information is provided as early as you can, so that your personal injury lawyer can build the best possible case for you.  For this reasons,  it’s best to start faulty work equipment claims as soon as possible while the details are fresh in your mind and while any supporting evidence is easiest to gather.

Medical evidence is also important and your solicitor will arrange for a specialist medical report on your injuries caused at work. But don’t worry – this will not cost you anything upfront.

Get in touch with us and we will can guide you through the process of claiming compensation. We will partner you with experienced personal injury solicitors for legal advice. Contact us using our online claim form or call us for free on 0800 234 6438.

DID YOU KNOW: Faulty work equipment claims can still be pursued even if the business in question is no longer trading.

Can I still claim if I was partly responsible for my accident?

It is not uncommon for individuals who have been injured while working with or near defective work equipment think or assume they must have been to blame for what happened. However, in most cases that will not actually be the case, so if you believe the incident was your fault, you must talk things over with our specialist advisors who can put you in touch with a personal injury team.

For example, you may keep rehearsing the accident in your mind and have concluded that you must have done something to cause the piece of equipment to go wrong or you were using it wrongly. However, usually that is not the case – and it’s vital you talk it over with your personal injury lawyer who will explain the claims process; and take all the background information about the lead up to the incident to get to the bottom of what really caused the accident.

In some circumstances, you may assume your employer is not responsible because it was your own equipment, or one of your colleagues’. In some cases, that might be the case: for instance, suppose that you have come to work with own tool or equipment but you haven’t told your employer, even though all workers have been clearly instructed to inform your employer if they bring in equipment from work to use.  If you then use it anyway and get injured as a result, it will not be fair or reasonable for your employer to be held responsible for your injuries.

However, if your employer knows that equipment has been brought in to be used in the workplace, but doesn’t take any safety measures in response; that indicates they could be held at least partly responsible.

So it’s important to understand that employers must comply with strict and robust health and safety rules and regulations to keep the risk of serious injury to a minimum, as far as they reasonably can. So don’t assume you cannot make a successful claim – always check with specialist advisors rather than lose your opportunity to make defective work equipment claim.

It could be that when you make a faulty equipment claim, your employer may argue that you were partly to blame for your injuries (or may even deny responsibility altogether). However, it is then the employer’s responsibility to prove you were to blame, for instance, that they can demonstrate you recklessly ignored an obvious problem but used the faulty equipment anyway.

Occasionally, a worker can be found partially to blame to blame for an accident involving faulty equipment (this is known as ‘contributory negligence’), in which case your employer would probably not have to pay you the full amount of compensation you would otherwise be entitled to. The full amount of compensation awarded to you would then be reduced by a proportionate amount to reflect your responsibility for the incident.

Always check your if you can make a no win no fee personal injury claim with specialist advisers as early as you can. It should not stop you claiming compensation, though it could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.

What if the equipment was inherently faulty – can I still sue the employer?

Businesses who order equipment for use in the workplace have every right to believe that when the equipment arrives it will be fit for use straightaway. But there are instances where equipment is faulty even before it leaves the warehouse, usually because of a manufacturing problem or it’s damaged during transit.

This is one of the many good reasons why health and safety regulations require employers to do proper safety checks and inspections both before and after installation. This is because there are scenarios where equipment is faulty when it reaches the employer. If faults are not picked up before they are used, whatever ‘use’ that may entail – there is a higher risk of injury.

Importantly, from the worker’s point of view – employers are liable even if the defect is a manufacturer’s fault. Under the Employer’s Liability (Defective Equipment) Act 1969 an employer is deemed negligent if:

  • A worker is injured because of a defective piece of equipment;
  • That equipment was provided by the employer; and
  • The defect is attributable wholly or in part to a third party.

So this means that if the inherently defective equipment causes injury, the employer should be held liable. That seems unfair for the employer, but the employer can then claim for compensation directly against the manufacturer or supplier.

There is, of course, no guarantee that all such faults will be picked up during initial safety inspections, but the employer will have discharged its legal obligation to the best of its ability to minimise any risks. It’s a very high burden for the employer to discharge, because the risk of injury can never be completely eliminated – the worker safety is paramount.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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