Machines and other work equipment are a vital asset in factories and warehouses, as well as many other workplaces, but they pose a risk of injury to anyone working with or near them.
Injuries can be caused by machines in numerous ways, ranging from being hit by moving parts to clothing – and body parts – being pulled into moving machinery. If injured by the machine itself, the results can be devastating. Injuries can include serious wounds and, in some cases, amputations.
The implications for your health and livelihood can be significant, but it is highly likely that if a workplace injury involves machinery or a piece of equipment, you can make an injury claim.
The most common types of accident involving machinery and equipment are:
To find out whether you could make a claim, contact an expert legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. Or, if you’d prefer, you can fill in the secure online form on this page to arrange a call back.
The fifth most common kind of non-fatal workplace injury in 2018/2019 was contact with moving machinery, according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). The Labour Force Survey said there were 44,000 incidents involving machine, to and 2,615 incidents were reported according to RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).
Machines and tools are, unsurprisingly, a top risk particularly in the construction sector, with machinery-related accidents accounting for between 2-6% of reported fatal and non-fatal injuries.
And what about members of the public? In 2020-21, 60 members of the public were killed due to work-related activities; and in the previous year that figure was 92 (the reduction likely explained by Covid-19 restrictions). It is not known how many were machine-related but a proportion would have been.
Escalators, travelators and lifts, for instance, pose an injury risk to members of the public because they are a common feature in public buildings and on the public transport system.
The definition of work equipment is wide, and includes machines and apparatus; appliances and tools; and other installations used in the workplace. It even extends to equipment provided my employees themselves to use at work, so if you’re using your own piece of machinery at work and it causes an accident, you could still claim.
The list of what amounts to work equipment can, therefore, be very lengthy but includes lathes and saws; knives and drilling machines; power presses and cranes; photocopiers and coffee machines; and even vehicles.
Faulty machines and equipment pose an even greater risk to workers, so if you were injured by a faulty piece of machinery you should be able to make an injury claim. Problems could include faulty wiring, jagged edges, broken parts and unstable or weak guardrails. Even the lack of operating instructions could be classed as a ‘fault’.
Machinery can also become faulty through frequency of use which makes it unreliable. Even so, the law specifically requires employers to ensure work equipment is suitable for its intended use; maintained as such; and inspected to ensure it remains compliant.
The HSE makes it clear what employers’ duties are. They should, for instance, have procedures in place that allow workers to report damaged and faulty equipment. Employers must not ignore such reports, which means they must address the issues through inspection, maintenance and repair within a reasonable time.
Until then, faulty or damaged equipment should not be used and should be clearly marked as such. For these reasons, the fact that you’ve been injured by faulty equipment or machinery does not mean your employer should escape responsibility. It is important to take early advice about how you can start a claim.
The law provides many layers of protection for UK workers. Employers have strict legal responsibilities and obligations to ensure the workplace is safe and that any risks to health and safety are identified and dealt with in a timely way. Their general responsibilities are found in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related laws and require that employers ensure they protect their employees’ health, safety and welfare.
Particularly, the 1974 Act requires employers to ensure all machinery and vehicles used by their staff at work are appropriately maintained and all necessary measures have been taken to ensure employees using and operating them are protected from injury risks.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) is a particularly crucial piece of law in relation to workplaces where machinery and work equipment is used. PUWER places specific duties on those who own, operate or have control over such equipment. They must ensure that workplace equipment/machinery is:
In some specific cases, there is further legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, employers whose workforce uses lifting equipment must comply with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and personal protective equipment must comply with related regulations.
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 health and safety requirements.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure workers are properly and adequately trained and instructed in the use and operation of equipment and machinery. Training and supervision must also be kept effective and up-to-date.
Unfortunately, failures in training and supervision when it comes to machinery and equipment pose a major injury risk in the workplace because of the potentially serious injuries that could result.
The importance of training is not limited to how to actually use a piece of equipment competently and safely – it can also ensure that operators and others working around the machine know not to access dangerous parts; and how to recognise potential problems.
Periodic training should therefore be given to operators and other parts of the workforce to ensure their health and safety is not put at risk. Operators should also have ready access to operator handbooks and user guides at any given time. If these are unavailable when the need arises, the risk of injury increases because workers may be left with no choice but to make quick decision as to what to do without a resource to hand.
It is not uncommon for an injured worker to worry they must be to blame, at least in part, for what happened. However, in many cases that is not actually the case, so if you believe the machinery incident was your fault, you should always talk things over with a specialist legal adviser. However, even if you are partially to blame for your accident, you could still receive compensation.
For example, you may be thinking that you must have simply done something wrong, when in fact you may not have been trained how to do the particular think properly; or a fault may have developed in the machine that led to your operation of the machine causing the accident and injury. It’s not hard to see how machine operators can assume they were the cause of an accident.
Injured workers standing or working nearby may also think they were too close to the machine, however, if there were no warning signs to stay a safe distance away – the employer can be held responsible. It is always safest to check, rather than lose your opportunity to make an injury claim.
It could be that when you make a claim, your employer may come back and argue 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 a clear hazard sign.
Occasionally, a worker can be found partially to blame to blame for an accident (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 potential claim with specialist advisers as early as you can. It should not stop you making a claim, though it could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
Here’s the bottom line: if you have been injured while using, driving or operating equipment or machinery, and you have not been trained on that equipment, you can make an injury claim.
All employers are legally required to train their workers in how to operate machines and equipment and if they fail to do so, this is a clear breach of statutory rules and regulations for which they must be held responsible.
No training or minimal training can open you up to all sorts of risks, ranging from operating machines dangerously, electric shocks, burns and scales and injuries from lifting. Workers should not be exposed to such risks in the workplace – which is why training is vital.
Get in touch with a legal adviser for free now on 0800 234 6438 and find out how you can start your machine injury claim.
While some machine accidents at work thankfully only result in minor injuries, accidents involving machinery can cause catastrophic injuries, such as amputations and even death. It is only right and fair that levels of compensation should be significant to match the level of harm and injury caused to the individual.
However, it is difficult to estimate how much an injury victim may win in their particular injury claim because it depends on a number of factors, including the nature and extent of the injuries; and the wider impact of the injuries on your life and ability to work.
That said, there are formal judicial guidelines on the assessment of what is known as ‘general damages’. Lawyers rely on this guidance to calculate what an injured person is entitled to as compensation. For example:
|Injury Type||Min. Payout||Max. Payout|
|The loss of an arm below the elbow||£76,650||£87,000|
|Crush injuries to the chest||£52,390||£80,250|
|Severe back injuries||£33,000||£137,330|
|Dermatitis (one hand)||£1,460||£16,380|
You will need expert medical evidence to help your injury lawyer negotiate a fair compensation settlement, but you need not worry about how to arrange this because your solicitor will do that for you.
In addition to general damages, you can also include a claim for ‘special damages’. This will compensate you for any accident-related financial losses (such as loss of wages and overtime, and rehabilitation costs). Your solicitor will discuss this with you and explain when they need to claim back your costs.
Any employee or worker can bring an injury claim after a machine accident in the workplace. Your claim will be against the employer, though in practice it will be against its insurance company under its liability insurance police. This means your employer will simply pass on the claim to the insurer to deal with.
Assuming you win your claim, the insurance company will make your compensation payout – it will not come out of the employer’s pocket.
If you were a member of the public at the time of the accident, your injury claim will be against the business or public authority responsible for the premises. This would usually be the company carrying on business at the time.
For example, if you were injured in a coffee shop by a faulty coffee machine that spewed out hot liquid, your claim would be against the company operating that coffee shop.
Unlike an employee’s claim, your injury claim would fall under occupiers’ liability. Businesses have a legal duty of care to their customers and visitors under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, so if you’ve been injured while on their premises they will be held responsible under this law.
Your solicitor will need as much information as possible to built the strongest possible claim on your behalf, including:
If you or a family member have suffered injuries from a machine accident at work, you should be able to make a compensation claim. Contact a legal adviser early, and they can help you make a no win no fee injury claim.
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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