The role of the HSE
The Health and Safety Executive (http://www.hse.gov.uk/) is the national regulator for health and safety in the workplace. As such they aim to reduce workplace related injury, death and illness. They do so by promoting training, providing regulations, research and investigation, enforcement. They will investigate the more serious cases of workplace related injuries and if they deem appropriate take legal action against the offending company (in Scotland it is the Crown Prosecution Service that is solely responsible for the raising of criminal proceedings).
This means that if you make a claim for personal injury against your employer, that may not be the only financial penalty placed on them. If the HSE successfully charge them under breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 then they will be likely to receive a fine from the courts too.
It is worth noting that this is a punitive measure aimed at ensuring that such accidents do not happen again and on a more national level; let other companies and employers know there is much less expensive to have working equipment and safe working environments than it is to wait for an incident to occur.
Some Cases from the HSE
An Aberdeenshire Haulage firm was fined £20,000.00 for an incident where an employee was knocked over and drove over by a tractor whilst standing in an area used to clean the vehicles. The employee suffered horrific injuries to his leg and pelvis and the HSE inspector assigned to the case stated that the accident could have easily been avoided. (http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2012/rnn-sco-01012.htm)
Some Scottish Personal Injury Solicitors are: Thompsons (Scotland), Lawford Kidd, Digby Brown, Irwin Mitchell, Brodies, Digby Brown and Watermans.
A South Yorkshire firm was ordered to pay £142,000.00 in fines and costs in relation to serious safety breaches leading to a worker being killed. The death resulted from being crushed by a one and a half tonne steel girder. The employee was well experienced in the steel industry and was struck and crushed by the girder after a crane hook clamp snagged the girder knocking it over. The HSE officer in this case noted that a suitable risk assessment would have identified issues such as these and would have allowed for suitable measures to be taken. (http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2012/rnn-yh-18612.htm)
Some Personal Injury Solicitors for England and Wales are: Thompsons Solicitors, Duncan Gibbins Solicitors, Blake Lapthorn, KTP Solicitors and Andrews Solicitor.
A Wokingham Business was fined in relation to two subcontractors being unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Reading University. The fine was £28,000.00 and the company were also told to pay legal costs of a similar value. This was for failing to inform the company it subcontracted for upgrades at the university about the fact asbestos containing materials would be on site. The company were aware of the fact and did not pass the information on and as such two workers drilled through such material without taking the proper precautions. (http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2012/rnn-se-18412.htm)
Personal Injury Solicitors that specialise in cases concerning Asbestos related illness are: Thompsons Solicitors / Thompsons (Scotland), Lawford Kidd, Irwin Mitchell, WE Solicitors and Simpson Millar
Making a Personal Injury Claim Against Your Employer
As with all cases the first step is to find legal representation. The firms listed above are a great place to start. You can also look to some of the national companies specialising in personal injury compensation claims such as: National Accident Helpline, Claims Direct and Injury Lawyers 4U. You may also have the ability to use the legal representative of a Trade Union, provided you are a member of one.
Following this you will be informed of the time scale to expect any possible resolution and the likelihood of a successful outcome. It is worth having a figure that you are willing to settle for. Obviously discuss this with your legal counsel, but sometimes there can be a lot of negotiation involved and the sooner you reach agreement the sooner the case is closed and you can move on. That is not to say always settle. Merely that going to court can be very stressful and will not always garnish the result you’re looking for. Also make sure to heed the advice you are given; be that how to communicate with your current or past employer.