Construction: Who's responsible if the equipment you use at work causes you harm?


A West Midlands construction worker has been awarded compensation following a shin injury he suffered while working on a road improvement project.

The worker had been working on the A1 Dishforth to Barton scheme by the Carillion-Morgan Sindall joint venture, through Carillon's recruitment arm Sky Blue.

Band-tie shot loose

On 9 July 2010, the worker was busy tidying away pallets onsite when a steel band-tie suddenly sprang into the air. As it fell back the band embedded itself into the worker's right shin.

The 44 year-old suffered a deep cut to his shin. Since the sharp steel had cut into his muscle, the shin injury left him unable to do even routine things around the house, such as cleaning windows and mowing the lawn, for some 3 months after the accident.

Where there any long-term effects of injury?

He now has unsightly scarring running through a tattoo on his leg and still experiences muscle stiffness and tightness.

Later it transpired that the pallets had not been properly stacked onsite after their contents had been removed, with their band-ties cut but not actually removed as they should have been.

Pallets should have been neatly stacked

"Once severed, the ties ought to have been removed altogether," observed Simpson Millar LLP's Chris Hoyle, who acted for the worker in his subsequent claim against Sky Blue. "The ties should then have been placed in a metal skip, and steps should have been taken to ensure the pallets were stacked neatly prior to our client working with them."

Chris noted that the man reported the accident to 3 key onsite personnel – the first-aider, the foreman and the safety officer – and made sure details were recorded in the accident book.

We wrote to Sky Blue/Carillion, who are no strangers to challenges from disgruntled employees, alleging their wrong doing and their breaking of the law. The firm had failed both to provide a safe place of work and to maintain the workplace and equipment in good repair.

It had also failed to keep the workplace clean and had allowed waste materials to accumulate.

No health and safety policy

"These were accompanied by several other breaches of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and the Occupiers' Liability Act," Chris said. "The firm had also overlooked appropriate training and instruction to site workers to deliver a proper health and safety policy – a policy which was non-existent anyway."

Simpson Millar LLP negotiate in the man's favour

Accepting all responsibility, the companies insurers made an initial offer of £1,450. Deeming this too low, we countered with £4,350 before further negotiations led to a settlement of £3,500 in favour of our client.

Top tips to take away:

  • All employers have a duty to ensure their equipment is maintained according to health and safety regulations
  • If defective equipment in your workplace causes you harm, you'll almost certainly have a case against your employer for a personal injury at work claim

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