South London Man Wins £80,000 Against Employer For Crush Accident

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 197 states that “”it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far is as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”. Recently, a case has come before the Health and Safety Executive that sends out a clear message to other companies to ensure that they live up to the responsibilities they have to their employees.

In the case, an 80 kg faulty piece of machinery, used to sort soiled towels, fell 10 feet, crushing the engineering manager. The manager had been trying to retrieve a towel from the machine at the time, after it had become jammed in a conveyor belt. Could it have been argued that the accident was the manager’s fault? The HSE’s investigation found that the employee had been temporarily given Health and Safety duties at the time, but had never been given adequate training. In addition, the engineering team had not been provided with a manual that would have clearly shown how to solve the problem, and therefore averted the accident. The result for the employee was nearly three weeks in a coma with multiple broken bones and internal injuries. The result for the company at the centre of the investigation was an £80,000 payout. The Health and Safety Inspector assigned to the case said that all companies must make sure that “they are protecting their employees effectively. It is no good to anyone if problems are only found after it is too late”.

While £80,000 might seem a significant sum of money, it should be remembered that the victim has had to undergo major surgery and rehabilitative treatment. The accident itself occurred in October of 2007 and, in the two years it took for the case to be concluded, it has been reported that he has had to have a number of major operations and a series of skin grafts to save his legs. In addition, there may have been other costs incurred for other treatments and it is not known how his recovery has affected his ability to return to work.

Compensation is not a payout to satisfy a worker who feels he has been hard done-by. Often, as in the case above, it is there to pay for treatments that restore the victim back to health. After all, the accident was found not to have been his fault and, therefore, someone has to be liable for the injuries sustained. In this case, it was the employer, who had not lived up to his duty of care for his employees; a legal requirement.

In the unfortunate event that you are the victim of an accident at work that could have been prevented through training, risk assessment or the issue of appropriate safety-equipment, you should seek the services of an accident injury work lawyer. Unfortunately, many employers still put their employees at risk and it is only by speaking out that these risks can be identified and minimised.

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