Who is liable for workplace accidents?
- 19 May 2023
Whether you work on a construction site, office, or in the comfort of your own home, accidents in the workplace can happen at any time. Statistics show that over 500,000 workers have sustained a work-related injury and 1.8 million Brits have suffered from illness due to current working conditions.
While the outcomes of these incidents are clear, establishing who is responsible for these accidents can be more challenging. Determining where the fault lies can help in personal injury claims and move workers to receive fair compensation.
When is the employee responsible?
According to UK law, employers have a legal duty of care towards their employees and are responsible for ensuring staff safety in the workplace. Due to the legal concept of vicarious responsibility, employers can be held liable for employee actions. Even if staff is negligent and causes an accident, their employer could still be seen as responsible for any personal injuries.
Employers also have a responsibility to report certain accidents and pay you sick pay or time off for an incident at work if workers should need it.
When is the employer responsible?
It is the responsibility of the employer to follow work accident procedures after an incident occurs. To not be held liable under vicarious responsibility, the employer would need to prove that the worker was acting outside of the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. Also, whether the incident took place during outside working hours and the place of work.
Employers can protect themselves against vicarious responsibility claims by following careful recruitment processes and properly training employees. Staff should also be reminded of acceptable ways of working.
How has the responsibility shifted with working from home (WFH)?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a big shift towards WFH. In 2023, it was recorded that around 38% of Brits are working remotely at least some of the time. But who is responsible here if a worker gets injured during office hours? In general, most WFH is low risk, but accidents still happen.
Even if you’re working from the comfort of your house, your employer is still responsible for your safety. Management must assess whether certain jobs are suitable for homeworking and take appropriate measures to mitigate associated risks.
After a risk assessment has taken place, employers should check that the equipment they supply is up to standards and supply staff with the appropriate personal protective equipment if necessary.
What if there is a dispute?
If you have suffered an accident at work and were injured as a result, you have the right to bring forward a personal injury claim against your employer. Contact legal professionals to discuss your options and help you handle any disputes.