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Whilst there are many regulations and safeguards in place to protect employees from the dangers of working on construction sites, accidents happen and mistakes are made.

The risks to employees on construction sites are varied and extreme, so we have broken down some of the most common incidents in a little more detail throughout this guide.

What are the different kinds of construction site accidents?

During the construction of buildings, it is often necessary to work at height.  Frequently, intricate work is carried out at height and it is important that employees are trained in safe practice and protected from the dangers of being far off the ground.

A lapse in concentration or the actions of another employee further adds to the danger and can ultimately cause serious injury.

Construction Site

 

  • Accidents involving faulty equipment or equipment improperly used

The maintenance and proper use of work equipment is essential to keep employees safe at work.

A faulty piece of machinery, sometimes even just a missing cog or screw, can cause the machine to fail and become extremely dangerous.  Hand injuries are particularly common, with it being necessary to operate the machine manually or fix problems when a piece of equipment fails.

Inadequate training can also lead to employees using machines in an unsafe and incorrect manner.

  • Accidents caused by other employees

Workmates are essential for helping to get tasks done and teamwork is very important on a construction site.

A mistake by a colleague can have catastrophic consequences in certain situations.  Employers are responsible for the actions of all employees and, ultimately if a workmate has caused you to be involved in an accident, it is your employers who are responsible for the resulting injuries.

  • Injuries caused by heavy lifting

There are rules and regulations determining what it is safe to lift and training in safe lifting is vitally important.

In construction site work. a lot of lifting of equipment and materials can be involved and injuries can occur if this is not done in a controlled manner.

  • Injuries caused by an unsafe working environment

Construction sites are busy places, with many different operatives doing different jobs.

Safe organisation and storage of materials, plant and equipment are essential and, if this does not happen, all kinds of injuries can occur.  One injury caused by such a scenario is described in the case study below.

  • Accidents caused by unsafe instructions by superiors

Managers, Team Leaders and Supervisors have a lot of responsibility and a good manager can be the difference between a working environment being safe or dangerous.

There are occasions where the direct orders of a manager or supervisor can cause an accident (either by an employee being given dangerous instructions, or by them failing to heed warnings of unsafe working practices).

Similarly, if they fail to be mindful of safety themselves, or indeed wilfully encourage employees to disregard their safety or the safety of others, the consequences of this are evident.

Injuries

 

I have been involved in an accident on a construction site, what do I do?

It is important to ensure that the accident is reported and treatment is sought quickly.

When reporting the accident to the allotted person within the company, you should ensure the following:

  • The proper date and time of the accident is recorded.
  • An accident book entry, detailing accurate accident circumstances and your signature is completed.
  • Full details of your injury and treatment are entered in the accident book.

When attending hospital or your GP, ensure that you carefully describe what happened and when.  Keep a record yourself of the advice given by the doctor and treatment provided for future reference.  It can also be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms and how the injury progresses.

How do I make a claim?

You need to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.  While the amount of time you have to claim (referred to as the ‘limitation period’) for claims of this nature is three years, it is harder to gather evidence as time passes.  However, if it is some time since the accident occurred, don’t worry, it is still possible to make a claim (assuming it is not longer than three years from the date of the accident).

Oakwood Solicitors have a dedicated, experienced and professional team within the Employers’ Liability Department and would be happy to help.

Can I claim loss of earnings?

Yes, both past and future loss of earnings can be considered. If your injury is very serious and your ability to work in the future has been affected, you can claim for the disadvantage you will have when seeking employment in the future.

If you intend to claim loss of earnings, either past loss of earnings or future, it is important that you retain the following documentation:

  • Wage slips for the three month period prior to the accident.
  • Wage slips for the period of absence.
  • Details of any other payments received.

Will making a claim help to change unsafe practices in the workplace?

There is obviously no guarantee that making a claim will change things for the better for other employees (or improve your own safety if you continue to work at the Defendants’ premises), but it could help to highlight dangers that exist if they have previously been overlooked.

If you have concerns about safety in the workplace at any point during the course of your employment, ensure you report it to the appropriate person.  If you do not feel that your complaint has been adequately dealt with, speak to that person’s superior.  Never let unsafe working practices go unchecked.  Prevention is always better than cure.

I worked for a contractor, who should I pursue a claim against?

Ultimately, the company that employed you are responsible for your safety on site.  There could be some situations where the claim is redirected to another Defendant, but that would be for your legal representative to consider at the appropriate point in your claim.

Work at height

 

I am self-employed, but was working on a construction site when I was injured.  The accident was not my fault.  Can I still claim?

Yes.  If the accident was caused by the actions of an employee of another firm, for example, we could attempt to pursue a claim against that firm.  If the accident was caused by the site being disorganised, we could attempt to make a claim against the company in control of the site.

It would be up to your legal representative to advise you on the merits of your claim and the possibility of claiming compensation.

Will I need to attend Court?

Whilst most claims are resolved without attendance at Court being required, there is small chance you may need to give evidence.

Reasons why your employers may refuse to settle your claim are varied.  Some examples of reasons a claim can be turned down are:

  • They do not believe your injuries were caused by the accident.
  • They believe you were responsible for the accident occurring.
  • They disagree that the working practices and/or equipment was unsafe.
  • They deny the accident happened at all.

How much compensation will I receive?

This is an extremely difficult question to answer at the outset.  The level of compensation will depend on the seriousness of the injuries and the nature of any other losses.

If your future loss of earnings is affected for example (see above), this could be worth a large amount of money in itself.

Compensation for the injury is determined by the amount of money awarded in past cases of a similar nature and guidelines set out for all legal entities to consider when valuing a claim.

When the time comes, you will be given proper advice by your legal representative on the value of your claim and whether any offers that are made are reasonable.

Case Study

Derek worked as an employee for a construction firm.  The site was busy and the contract was behind.  Lots of people were on site and many jobs were being conducted at once.  There was no suitable organisation of the site and work was being conducted in a chaotic manner.

The construction firm should have ensured that pedestrians and traffic could circulate in a safe manner.  Derek was walking from one side of the site to another.  There was an open trench that was not properly highlighted or cordoned off.  Furthermore, it was obscured by other equipment, and it was therefore impossible to be seen.

As Derek walked along the site, his left foot inadvertently went into the trench and he fell 2m into the ground.  He injured his leg and back and was unable to work for three months.

It was successfully argued that Derek’s employees failed to ensure Derek could safely circulate the site throughout the course of his duties and were responsible for the actions of the employees who did not cordon off the hole sufficiently.

The workplace itself was disorganised and unsafe and employees were inadequately trained in the procedures necessary to ensure a safe working environment.

Derek’s employers, through their insurers, admitted they were at fault for the accident.  Derek attended a medical examination which concluded he had suffered a soft tissue injury to his back, which took 18 months to fully resolve and damaged ligaments in his leg.  He received 8,000 in compensation.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd

 

Why choose Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to make my Construction Site accident?

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd has been dealing with personal injury claims within the workplace since 2001.  One of our current members of the Department helped found the Employers Liability and Public Liability Department at its inception.

We have an experienced and dedicated team and many of our solicitors and paralegals have been with us for over ten years, already having vast experience when they joined us.

We deal with claims that range between one thousand and hundreds of thousands of pounds, many of which involve extensive claims for various kinds of expenses.

When you instruct us, you can expect a friendly, down to earth approach together with an extensive knowledge of the field which will be used to fight tenaciously with the insurers to achieve the maximum level of compensation possible for you.

We are able to act for you on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning there is no risk to you, and you will not be charged if the claim is unsuccessful.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT

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Emma Bell

Solicitor and Head of Employers' and Public Liability

0113 218 5706

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