An employment solicitor usually also deals with personal injury compensation claims arising during employment and will often provide you with free initial advice and legal representation if you wish to make a claim following an accident at work. By use of the no win no fee scheme by an employment solicitor you do not usually have to fund your claim and there are no expenses to pay. Compensation for personal injury is paid in full. Win or lose there is generally no charge. You should try to speak to a specialist lawyer who is a member of the Solicitors Regulation Authority panel of expert personal injury experts.
Health & Safety
An employment solicitor will be able to advise you on key issues regarding health and safety. Failure by an employer to abide by the regulations can give an employee the right to terminate employment and to claim compensation for constructive dismissal which is a sub-category of unfair dismissal. The key legislation aimed at reducing industrial accident claims, imposes a legal duty on employers to ensure that employees are protected from injury. Employers must carry out a risk assessment for all procedures and respond to it; removing or reducing risk to an acceptable level. Regulations are in place to ensure that a variety of risk areas are covered; the workplace itself and its dimensions and condition, ventilation, temperature control mechanisms, lighting, cleaning, washing and waste materials and facilities, adequate access points and clear floors, adequately functioning escalators, doors and gates. Health and safety at work is governed by a range of legislation:-
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
Machinery & Equipment
A common area of inadequacy that leads to industrial accident claims relates to machinery and equipment. Employers must ensure that work equipment is appropriate and that it functions in accordance with its purpose. It should be accompanied by detailed yet clear information on how it is used and effective training for those that use it. Employees must wear appropriate safety and protective clothing and procedures should be in place to ensure that all personal protective equipment is used and used properly.
Manual Handling Operations Regulations
These rules have the principal aim of preventing unsafe lifting from causing back injuries, mainly in the manufacturing industries, although the regulations apply in all work environments. As far as possible, an employer should attempt to minimise the circumstances in which employees must carry out manual handling operations in which there is a risk of injury. This may mean that the substitution of mechanical for manual lifting when this is reasonably possible. Should manual handling be necessary, employers must undertake a risk assessment which should comprehensively evaluate the nature and procedures of the task being carried out, the load involved, the surrounding work environment and the capacity of the individual to undertake such a task.
Health & Safety Statutes
An employment solicitor will be familiar with The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which details the obligations employers have towards their employees to reduce the number of accidents at work. In essence, employers have a duty to ensure employees health and safety as far as is reasonable, given the time, trouble and costs involved in minimising risk. They should evaluate threats to safety clearly and take appropriate measures according to the findings. After a risk assessment an employer should:
ensure employees have clear information and full training regarding their job
enforce health and safety measures that the risk assessment has revealed
arrange appropriate emergency procedures
recruit trained and competent individuals to implement procedures
co-ordinate with other employers in the same premises to ensure health and safety is maintained.
Protection of Employees
It should be noted that there is copious legislation intended to protect employees which should reduce the incidence of accident at work compensation claims:
The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, which provide first aid regulations in the workplace.
The Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989, which state that health and safety posters must be displayed at work.
The Noise at Work Regulations 1989, which ensure that employees are protected from hearing damage.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH), which declare the necessary assessment of risks from hazardous substances.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which concern a broad range of accident at work compensation claims issues, such as ventilation, lighting, heating, workstations, welfare facilities and seating.
The Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations (CHIP 2) 1994, which state that dangerous chemicals must be classified, labelled, and relevant safety data sheets must be made available.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994, which state that safe systems of work on building sites should be installed.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, which require that gas systems in commercial premises must be safely installed and maintained.
The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 1992, which give regulations on the appropriate provision of protective clothing and equipment.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which require employers to conduct appropriate risk assessments, and install proper arrangements to ensure competent people implement necessary protective measures and provide appropriate information and training.
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, which establish safety rules for VDUs.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, which state that all equipment and machinery provided to complete a job must be safe.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, which provide safety requirements concerning the manual movement of objects at work.