How much compensation can you claim for an accidents caused by defective work equipment?

"Work equipment" includes any tool, machine or device used by an employee to assist them in the execution of their job. It can include large factory machines such as drilling machines, power presses or other dangerous work equipment, or everyday office equipment such as a paper shredder or photocopier.

Work equipment becomes defective if it does not function as it is intended to function.

More than 629,000 people are injured each year by machines that do not work properly, according to the Health and Safety Executive, with injuries ranging from lacerations, fractures and sprains to amputations and severe crush injuries.

If you have been injured by defective work equipment, then you may be entitled to make a compensation claim against your employer.

Is your employer liable to pay compensation for a defective equipment-related injury?

The primary legislation is the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.  Under PUWER, employers must:

  • Ensure that work equipment is safe to use, well maintained and fit for purpose
  • Train employees in the safe use of workplace equipment and ensure they are appropriately supervised
  • Enforce safety protocols regarding the use and operation of work machines

PUWER imposes a special duty on employers known as "strict liability." In order to bring a claim, you only have to show that the work equipment was defective and that you suffered injury as a result.

You do not have to show that the employer knew about the defect or prove that the employer was negligent in any way.

Calculating compensation for the injuries sustained in an accident involving defective machinery

Compensation depends on the nature and severity of the injury you suffer. The Courts generally will look at the following factors when determining the value of your claim.

The nature of injuries caused by defective work equipment can vary widely, and it is the type and severity of injury that determines the level of compensation, rather than the context: 

  • The location of the injury (back injury, hand injury, foot injury etc)
  • The nature of the injury (laceration, fracture, crush damage) 
  • The seriousness of the injury (mild, moderate, severe, life-changing) 
  • How long it will take you to recover 
  • The overall impact of the injury on your ability to work and function in everyday life
  • The amount of pain you experience
  • Whether you need ongoing care and assistance
  • Likely future complications, for example, whether the injury will require future surgery or lead to conditions such as arthritis 
  • For some injuries and illnesses, your age and gender

To help solicitors assess the value of personal injury claims, the judiciary have compiled a document known as the Judicial College Guidelines. The Guidelines aim to bring objectivity to personal injury settlements by recommending maximum and minimum awards for each type of injury, based on the above factors.