More than 600,000 injuries were sustained in the workplace last year, while around 1.3 million people are suffering from work-related ill health in the UK.
Those are the headline figures from the latest annual injury and ill health statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which show that while Britain remains one of the safest places in the world to work, there is still room for improvement.
In 2016/17, there were:
• 137 fatal injuries in Britain’s workplaces
• 70,116 other injuries reported by employers
• 12,000 lung disease deaths estimated to be linked to past work exposures
• 554 cases prosecuted with fines from convictions totalling £69.9 million.
According to the HSE, workplace injury costs Britain nearly £15 billion a year with more than 31 million working days lost.
Last year, more than 130,000 workers received compensation following successful claims against their employer for work-related injuries.
However, the number of people taking legal action after suffering injury at work is on a downward trajectory. In the last five years, the volume of claims has fallen by 40,000 each year, now down to its lowest recorded level of 73,000 claims.
What’s causing the fall in claims?
There are a number of likely factors behind the trend.
In April 2012, the law was changed meaning an employee must now have two years’ continuous employment with the same employer to qualify for unfair dismissal protection. Before then, the period was only 12 months.
The effect has been a reluctance on the part of staff to make a claim in the first two years of employment for fear of dismissal. Indeed, Gotelee regularly acts for clients who are in this situation, with the reason for dismissal often recorded as incompetency or some other non-injury related reason.
The climate of fear is even greater for those working under zero-hour contracts in the so-called gig economy.
Meanwhile, in 2013, Employment Tribunal charges of up to £1,200 were introduced in an attempt to reduce the number of what it described as malicious and weak cases. As a result, the number of claims plummeted by 79% over three years.
Despite the protestations of Government, that decision was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Another significant reason for the fall in claims has been a watering-down of health and safety regulations. An employer will no longer be liable to a worker injured as a result of the employer’s breach of those regulations. Employees will now have to show that there was a breach of the regulations AND that the employer was negligent. For example, a worker can no longer simply show that he or she was injured by a defective machine – they must now show that the employer failed to regularly inspect and maintain that machine and that, as a result, the machine became defective and caused injury.
How can our personal injury lawyers help you?
Our personal injury lawyers specialise in representing people who have been injured in workplace accidents through no fault of their own.
If you have been involved in an accident at work or suffer from an industrial disease, such as Mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation.
Making a claim could result in compensation for your pain and suffering as well as financial help to deal with the consequences of your injury and could go some way to ensuring the same mistake isn’t repeated.
Gotelee has a wealth of experience in this area and can advise you whether or not you have the basis of a claim. If you do, we can support you through the process at any of our offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Melton.
Call us on 01473 298125 and we will consider your case and discuss with you how we can help.