What is your employer’s duty of care towards you?
All employers owe their employees a duty of care and their top priority above all else should be providing a safe workplace for all workers.
21 June 2016
It is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that all employees are kept safe at work. This 'duty of care' relates to how the work is planned and carried out, how the workplace is organised, that all equipment is suitable for the job in hand and that all staff receive appropriate training including regular refresher training. Any failings in these regards are taken seriously by the courts.
Our specialist employer’s liability solicitors have settled many work accident claims on behalf of people who have sustained an injury or have become ill during the course of their employment. Here are just five examples of an employer’s duty of care to their workers:
1. Providing safe equipment or machinery – employers must make sure that any equipment or machinery provided is suitable for the job.
They must also make regular inspections to check equipment and machinery is in good working order and only used by competent, trained personnel.
2. Safe manual handling procedures – your employer shouldn’t ask you to lift, lower, carry, push or pull any item that is likely to cause you injury.
Under the 1992 Manual Handling Operations Regulations, employers should – as is reasonably practicable – avoid hazardous manual handling operations by automating the work process, or do what they can to avoid injury to workers where such manual handling operations can’t be avoided.
3. Good lighting – as part of their duty to provide a safe working environment, your employer should ensure that the area where you work is adequately lit.
Different areas of the workplace call for different levels of lighting, for example a process control room or a factory floor will be lit at a higher luminance than a corridor connecting such areas.
Employers should regularly check the lighting on their premises as failure to do so can easily lead to a worker becoming injured.
4. Vicarious liability – your employer should provide a safe working environment and adhere to all health and safety laws, but what if you were injured by the actions of a colleague?
All employers are required to have employer’s liability insurance as they can be fined if they don’t have it. Claims are made against this insurance to compensate injured workers, including those who have been injured by the negligent act of a colleague. This is because the law holds the employer to be ‘vicariously liable’ – i.e. liable for the actions of all employees (or those with who they have a relationship ‘akin to employment’) carried out during the course of their job.
5. Avoiding ‘one off’ requests – it’s important for employers to follow health and safety regulations at all times, and not ask workers to flout them for a one-off job such as carrying heavy items to another part of the building that you wouldn't normally do.
The expert at Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation for anyone injured or taken ill because of the work they do. Most cases are handled on a No Win, No Fee basis, meaning there is no financial risk to you.
All information was correct at the time of publication.