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Machine Accidents

Machines and work equipment are a vital asset in workplaces such as factories, warehouses and construction sites. All those operating them should expect to enjoy their safe use without the worry that an accident may occur.

However, they can be a substantial risk of injury to anyone working with or near them. Injuries can be caused by heavy equipment in numerous ways and the results can be devastating.

The long term effects on your job and your health can be significant. It is highly likely that if you’ve suffered workplace injuries from machinery or a piece of equipment, you can make a no win no fee personal injury claim.

Get in touch with us free on 0800 234 6438– our advisors will be able to let you know whether you have a case.

What are the most frequent causes of machinery injuries?

The most common injuries caused by accidents at work involving equipment or machinery are:

Entrapment accidents – Moving parts such as pulleys and belts can entrap body parts, such as hands or hair; and pull in items of clothing leading to crush trauma, amputation and even death.

Impact accidents – Being struck by moving parts, or from falling from a construction machine can lead to serious injury.

Contact accidents – Jagged or sharp edges can cause punctures and deep cuts; while roughened and frayed edges can cause skin abrasions and friction burns. Hot surfaces can lead to serious burns, while live wiring/equipment can cause electric shocks, thermal burns and even electrocution.

Ejector accidents – Equipment accidents can involve items being ejected and hitting the operator or a bystander causing injury.

To find out whether you could make a claim for equipment accidents, contact us for free on 0800 234 6438. Or, if you’d prefer, you can fill in our 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 and Safety Executive (HSE). The Labour Force Survey said there were 44,000 incidents involving machine, to and 2,615 incidents were reported to RIDDOR

How common are machinery accidents at work?

Machines and heavy equipment are, unsurprisingly, a top risk particularly in the construction sector, with machinery accidents accounting for between 2-6% of reported fatal accidents and non-fatal injuries. But they can also happen with smaller office machinery.

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.

What is classified as work equipment?

The definition of work equipment is wide, and includes machines and apparatus; appliances and tools; and other installations used in the workplace. It also includes office equipment such as photocopiers and printers.

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.


An employee suffered serious hand injuries when attempting to clear a cutting machine blockage in 2018. An insulation company was fined £80,000 in December 2020 after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches. An HSE investigation found Kingspan Industrial Insulation Ltd failed to provide sufficient information, instructions and supervision for clearing blockages.

Health and Safety Executive

A Rotherham scrap firm was fined £50,000 in July 2021 after a worker was injured when he was pulled into an unsafe lathe machine. The 37-year-old man needed an operation to his arm and 24 stitches to his lip. CF Booth admitted health and safety breaches.


The equipment was faulty – can I still claim?

Faulty machines and equipment pose an even greater risk to workers, so if you were injured by a faulty piece of equipment you should be able to claim workers compensation. Faults could include faulty wiring, jagged edges, broken parts and unstable or faulty guards which fail to prevent access to dangerous parts.

Even the lack of operating instructions from the manufacturer can lead to doing your job wrong and could be classed as faulty equipment.

Heavy equipment or machinery can also become faulty through frequency of use and can become unreliable, increasing the risk of personal injury from equipment accidents. Even so, the law specifically requires businesses to ensure work equipment is suitable for its intended use; maintained and in good working order; and inspected to ensure it remains compliant.

The HSE makes it clear what employers’ duties are, including implementing procedures in place that allow workers to report damaged and faulty equipment.  They 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 after a machinery accident.

It is important to take early legal advice about how you can start a claim. Contact us for a free assessment on how you can obtain personal injury compensation.

What’s the law on the usage of machinery at work?

The law provides strict regulations to protect workers in the UK. Employer have strict legal responsibilities and obligations to ensure the workplace is safe and that any safety risks from heavy machinery or equipment 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 are appropriately maintained and all necessary measures in place to protect employees.


The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) is a particularly crucial piece of law in relation to workplaces where heavy machinery and work equipment is used. PUWER places specific duties on those who own, operate or have control over such equipment, including:

They must ensure that heavy equipment/machinery is:

  • Suitable for the intended use
  • Safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently 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. These will normally include guarding, emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices
  • Used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses

In some specific cases, there is further legislation in addition to PUWER. For example, businesses 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.

Machine Safety Regulations (MWR)

Businesses 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.

What is an employer’s responsibility for training and safety?

It is their responsibility to ensure workers are properly and adequately trained and instructed in the use and operation of heavy equipment and machinery. Training and supervision must also be kept effective and up-to-date to avoid the danger of machine accidents.

Unfortunately, failure in training and supervision means the employer is negligent. The risk is that potentially serious injuries could result from heavy machinery accidents.

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 heavy machinery 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 minimise the risk of machinery accidents. 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.

I’m partly responsible for my injury – can I still claim?

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 must talk things over with our specialist advisors.

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 machinery accidents.

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 business can be held responsible. It is always safest to check, rather than lose your opportunity to make an injury claim.

Will I win compensation even if I’m found partly to blame?

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 their 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 level of financial compensation you’re entitled to.

I didn’t have adequate training – can I still claim?

Here’s the bottom line: if you have been injured while using, driving or operating heavy equipment or machinery, and you have not been trained on that equipment, you can make an injury claim.

Your employer is legally required to train its 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.

If you were not given proper training, the risks of injury from operating machines increases. Workers should not be exposed to such risks in the workplace – which is why adequate training is vital.

Get in touch with us free of charge and find out how you can start your machine injury claim.

How much compensation could i receive?

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 workers 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:

SOURCE: Judicial College Guidelines 15th edition (2021)

Feel free to try our online calculator [link], but do bear in mind this is intended as a starting guide only. Specialist advice should always be sought.

You will need expert medical evidence to help your lawyer negotiate a fair financial 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, clients can also include a claim for ‘special damages’. This will compensate you for any accident-related financial losses such as lost wages, overtime and rehabilitation costs. Your solicitor will discuss this with you and explain when they need to claim back your costs.

Can I make a machinery accident claim as an employee?

Any employee or construction worker can bring an injury claim after a machine accident in the workplace. Your claim will be against the business, though in practice it will be against its insurance company under its liability insurance police. This means the business will simply pass on the claim to the insurer to deal with.

Assuming you win your claim, the insurance company will make your workers compensation payout – it will not come out of your employer’s pocket.

Can I make a machinery accident claim as a member of the public?

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 Costa Coffee shop by a faulty coffee machine that spewed out hot liquid, your claim would be against the company operating that Costa 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:

  • Details of where the incident occurred
  • The type of machinery or equipment involved, such as an escalator or customer lift
  • Details of any witnesses and the person to whom the incident was formally reported
  • A copy of the accident log book (the incident should have been recorded in it)
  • Photographs, for example, of the scene and of your actual injuries

What should I do now?

If you or a family member have suffered injuries from a machine work accident, you should be able to make a compensation claim. Contact us early for free advice with respect to your injuries and we can help you make a no win no fee injury claim.

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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