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Falls at work – the law and how to obtain redress

by Redmans Solicitors on March 21, 2013

Falls from heights at work account for more fatalities and serious injuries than any other carried out at work. In 2008/09 there were 35 fatalities, 4654 major injuries and a further 7065 injuries that caused the injured person to be off work for over 3 days or more. In 2003/4 falls from height accounted for more than 15% of all recorded injuries. Working at height is therefore a serious business and safety for workers undertaking this work is paramount.  We’ll therefore look at the law relating to falls from heights and how workers can obtain some form of recompense if they’re injured in a workplace fall that wasn’t their fault. We’ll do so by examining the following:

  1. What should you do if you’ve had a fall at work?
  2. What types of claim can you make if you’ve had a fall at work?
  3. What do you need to show to succeed in a claim for a fall at work?

What should you do if you’ve had a fall at work?

If you’ve had a fall at work then you should contact a personal injury solicitor so that your claim can be assessed. A fall at work can have serious consequences and could lead to serious physical or psychological injuries and/or a sustained loss of earnings.

What types of claim can you make if you’ve had a fall at work?

If you’ve had a fall at work then you can make the following types of claim against your employer:

  1. A claim for breach of statutory duty
  2. A claim for common law negligence

We’ll have a look at these two types of claim below.

What do you need to show to succeed in a claim for a fall at work?

Claiming for breach of statutory duty against your employer

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 apply to workplaces where employees are working at heights. Regulations 4, 5, 6 and 7 set out the responsibilities that an employer has for maintaining a safe working environment at height. These are as follows:

  • The work must be properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe and that work at height must only be carried out when the weather conditions render it safe to do so (Regulation 4)
  • Workers must be competent to work at height or plan working at height (Reg 5)
  • Risk assessments should be carried out and reasonable work equipment should be provided and further reasonable steps taken to prevent falls from heights (Reg 6)
  • Reasonable work equipment must be considered and selected (Reg 7)

If your employer fails to comply with any of these duties and you suffer harm due to a fall from height as a result then you may be able to obtain a remedy through a claim for breach of statutory duty.

Claiming for common law negligence against your employer

As well as making a claim for breach of statutory duty, you may be able to claim against your employer for negligence in the civil courts. In order to succeed in such a claim you would need to show that:

  • Your employer had a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent harm coming to you whilst you worked at height (the employer-employee duty of care is a well-established one)
  • Your employer breached this duty of care by failing to take reasonable steps to prevent harm coming to you
  • This breach of duty caused your losses
  • Your employer does not have a defence to your claim

Redmans Solicitors are compromise agreement solicitors and settlement agreement solicitors based in London

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