If you have suffered an injury after a fall from height accident at work which was not your fault, you may be entitled to claim compensation. A fall from height remains the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of major injury suffered as a result of accidents at work. The construction sector sees the greatest number of falls from height accidents. A London construction firm has recently been found guilty of manslaughter after two employees fell to their deaths working on luxury Belgravia apartments.
The Belgravia apartments case
Two men working on a luxury apartment construction site in Belgravia fell to their death in an “entirely foreseeable and preventable” accident whilst carrying a large heavy sofa over a first floor balcony. The sofa was too big to be carried up the stairs and instead five workmen stood on a first floor balcony and hauled the sofa up 20 feet from the pavement below.
The 130 year old cast iron balcony balustrade gave way and two men fell to their deaths on the pavement. A third man was saved after being grabbed by a colleague as he began falling. The prosecutor in the case suggested the accident was “the result of a long and unhappy history of neglect of health and safety at the company which employed [the workmen].”
The prosecutor highlighted that on the day of the accident there was a basic failure in identifying who was in charge at the site and that the company had been previously warned of the importance of having trained, competent and effective supervisors. The company had not offered health and safety training on lifting operations and its policy documents and risk assessments were only available “for show” in English despite the entire workforce being Polish.
The jury at the Old Bailey found the London construction firm guilty of health and safety breaches and two charges of corporate manslaughter.
Falls from height
According to statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) there were 37 (being over 25%) fatal injuries caused by a fall from height at work in 2015-2016. Almost half of these occurred in the construction sector. Additionally in the same period there were 37,000 cases of non-fatal injuries caused by falls from height. The most common causes of falls from height in the construction sector are falls from ladders, platforms, scaffolding and through weak roofs.
An employer’s duties and obligations
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (the Regulations) apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause death or personal injury. An employer must do all that is reasonably practicable to prevent anyone falling. The Regulations contain a simple step process for managing work at height and selecting the correct equipment to be used:
AVOID work at height if possible
PREVENT falls by using suitable equipment where work at height cannot be avoided
MINIMISE the risk and potential gravity of a fall by using suitable work equipment or other measures
Employer’s responsibilities under the Regulations include planning, training, safety on site, equipment and inspections and taking necessary precautions when working at height. Risk assessments should be carried out highlighting safety measures to be taken when working at height.
Making a claim
If you have suffered an injury through the neglect of your employer or a third party, you could be entitled to claim for compensation. Your employer is legally obliged to protect your safety whilst you are at work. Fall from height claims most often arise from a failure on the part of an employer to adequately ensure the safety of workers or visitors. If you can demonstrate that there has been a failure on the part of your employer to comply with the Regulations and its statutory obligations to prevent and minimise the risk of injury, your claim for compensation is likely to succeed.
It is important to ensure that the details of your accident are fully and properly recorded. If the cause of the accident is unknown, an expert can be instructed to carry out a site investigation and inspection to help establish the cause. Medical records for any injuries sustained will also be important evidence for your case.
The amount of compensation you are entitled to, is assessed on the individual facts of your case. The nature and extent of your injuries and the prognosis for recovery are considered. You may also be entitled to claim special damages for loss of earnings, related expenses and medical care.
Suffering an injury from an accident in the workplace can be extremely painful and have a lasting impact on your life. Compensation cannot restore your health and well-being but may go some way towards helping you recover or make necessary adjustments to your life depending on the severity of your injury. Seeking specialist legal advice from a solicitor with expertise in compensation claims for workplace accidents will ensure you recover what you are entitled to.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have suffered an injury as a result of an accident that was not your fault and would like a free claim assessment, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.