Enterprise Act Impacts on Accidents at Work in Somerset and Devon

Rachel Thain, Trainee Legal Executive at the Taunton office of leading Legal 500 firm Slee Blackwell Solicitors, considers the impact of the new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

For many years, UK workers have been protected by Health and Safety legislation. However, that protection has been eroded by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

Until this year, a factory worker, for example, injured as a result of faulty work equipment could rely on the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.  As long as he could prove the work equipment was defective at the time of the accident, his claim would succeed.  This is known as strict liability. With strict liability the employer was liable for the defect irrespective of whether he was aware of it.    In the well known case of Stark v The Post Office [2000], a postman successfully sued his employer after a bicycle accident when his brakes failed. The employer was held liable despite the fact the defect could not have been identified by any routine or rigorous inspection prior to the accident occurring.  Whilst this may seem unfair to an employer, the principal of strict liability stems from historic principles of health and safety.  It was imposed to protect our workforce by ensuring that compensation was available for innocent victims and forcing employers to take every possible precaution to prevent accidents occurring.

Under the new Act, Mr Stark’s claim would probably fail.  Unless he could show the defect was there to be seen before his accident, his employers would not be liable under the new regime.  He could no longer simply rely on a breach of the Regulations to succeed in a pursuing a personal injury claim. Instead, he would have to show the employer was negligent.  This means the defect would have to discoverable prior to the accident for his claim to succeed. The landscape in relation to such claims has therefore been radically changed by the passing of the Enterprise Act in April 2013.

Injury claims for accidents at work can still be made, but proving fault on the part of the employer will now be necessary. This will make it harder for successful claims to be pursued. It is therefore even more important than ever that accident victims seek legal advice from solicitors who are experts in the filed of personal injury law.

At Slee Blackwell Solicitors we have a team of specialist personal injury lawyers located throughout Devon and Somerset who will be happy to provide an initial free assessment of your accident at work claim.

You can call us on Freephone 0808 139 1594.

Alternatively, email Rachel at Rachel.thain@sleeblackwell.co.uk

And if you would like to meet with one of our injury lawyers then you are welcome to pop in to any of our offices in Devon and Somerset located in Barnstaple, Taunton, Bideford, South Molton and Braunton.

0808 139 1596