It’s surprising how many accidents have to happen in the workplace before some employers take proper steps to protect their employees.
A recent case of ours sums this up quite well:
In the summer of 2016, Ms D was injured at work when a forklift truck reversed into her, knocking her to the ground. Fortunately she escaped with only a sprained ankle; her employers, however, were not so fortunate, we sued them and recovered over £1,000 compensation.
The incident became something of a joke amongst employees at the Doncaster factory with Ms D agreeing that she would shout to let the drivers know she was in the warehouse while the drivers agreed to beep their horn to acknowledge her presence.
Not really the best ‘safe system of work’ and sure enough, just eight months later, while Ms D was carrying out checks in the same warehouse, she was hit by a reversing forklift truck. On this occasion, the driver was heading for a roller door that was closing. Instead of stopping and pressing the button to open the door, he reversed back to pull the cord that could also be used to open it.
Ms D wasn’t so lucky this time; the impact left her with bruising, a fractured finger and four weeks off work.
The employer wasn’t so lucky either. We sued them again, but this time the compensation award was over £4,700 as, in addition to reflecting the pain and suffering Ms D endured, the payment also had to cover her loss of earnings and repay her travel and prescription expenses.
Workplace injuries can be particularly nasty. Hopefully, the employers in this case will install a correct safe system of work and avoid a more serious incident in the future.
Making sure that effective health and safety measures are in place is a legal obligation, not an optional extra.
Author: Gail Harris