How much compensation can you claim for an accident involving dangerous work machinery?
Work machinery is responsible for more than 1,500 major injuries each year according to the Health and Safety Executive. Injuries typically range from cuts and fractures to severe crush injuries, especially of the hands.
All employers are required by law to protect their workers from the dangerous parts of machines. Even relatively safe machinery should be regularly serviced to ensure that it remains safe to use and operate.
Anyone who has been injured by machinery at work may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. The amount of damages will depend on a number of factors including the type and severity of your injury.
Is the employer responsible for my injury?
The risks associated with workplace machinery are recognised in legislation. Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, employers have a legal duty to:
- Ensure that all work machinery is safe to use
- Maintain machinery in good condition
- Prioritise completion of essential repairs
- Train staff to use machinery safely and correctly
- Fit guards or other safety mechanisms to prevent workers from coming into contact with dangerous or moving parts
- Provide suitable protective clothing to staff operating machinery
If these and other standards are not met, then the employer is in breach of its duty of care. They may be found to be negligent and therefore liable to pay compensation for your injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive make wide-ranging recommendations to ensure the safety of staff using dangerous equipment. Whether the equipment in question is a forklift truck, digger, circular saw, conveyor belt or pneumatic stamping press, the HSE require employers and operators to consider many safety factors. In addition to the above, the HSE state that:
- Programmable electronic systems should be maintained and operated only be qualified persons,
- The purpose of control switches are clearly marked,
- Two-handed controls should be used where appropriate and guards and shrouds should be used to protect critical buttons and switches from accidental use,
- Emergency stop buttons should be clearly visible and easy to operate
Likely compensation for dangerous machinery injuries
The compensation you receive depends on several factors including the type and severity of the injury, how long it will take you to recover and the likelihood of future symptoms such as lost movement or ongoing pain.
Where the injuries are very serious, compensation awards can be high.
Solicitors refer to the Judicial College Guidelines when calculating the likely value of your claim. The guidelines recommend the amount of damages attributable to the pain and suffering associated with common types of injuries involving dangerous machinery. These injuries will depend on the machine but most likely will involve a severing or crushing injury to the hands, neck or face.
By way of example, the guidelines recommend the following awards:
- Loss of index finger: Around 14,250 pounds
- Loss of thumb: 27,000 pounds to 41,675 pounds
- Minor crush injury to hand with recovery in a few weeks: Up to 3,300 pounds
- More serious crush injury to hand with significant permanent disability: 22,050 pounds to 47,050 pounds
- Loss of sight in one eye, for example, due to debris flying from a machine: 37,450 pounds to 41,675 pounds
- Severe facial scarring: Up to around 47,000 pounds for a man; women may receive more.
In addition, you can also claim compensation for lost wages, medical treatment and the cost of ongoing care. Your solicitor will be able to review your circumstances and give you a personalised estimate of the likely value of your claim.