Defective work equipment
injury claims

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What counts as defective work equipment?

"Work equipment" includes any tool, machine or device used by an employee to assist them in the execution of their job. It can include large factory machines such as drilling machines, power presses or other dangerous work equipment, or everyday office equipment such as a paper shredder or photocopier.

Work equipment is defective if it does not reliably and safely function as it is intended to function.

More than 600,000 people are injured each year by machines that do not work properly, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Injuries caused by defective equipment range from lacerations, fractures and sprains to amputations and severe crush injuries.

Is your employer liable to pay compensation for a defective equipment-related injury?

The primary legislation is the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). Under PUWER, employers must:

  • Ensure that work equipment is safe to use, well maintained and fit for purpose
  • Train employees in the safe use of workplace equipment and ensure they are appropriately supervised
  • Enforce safety protocols regarding the use and operation of work machines

PUWER imposes a special duty on employers known as "strict liability". In order to bring a claim, you only have to show that the work equipment was defective and that you suffered injury as a result.

You do not have to show that the employer knew about the defect or prove that the employer was negligent in any way.

What to do if you have been injured by defective work equipment

Get medical records

Even if you think you have suffered only minor injuries, you should still see a doctor. A range of serious conditions may take some time to become obvious.

Seeing a doctor will also ensure you have a clear, official record of the extent of your injuries caused by the accident. This can make it easier when claiming compensation for these injuries if you choose to do so.

If you don’t seek medical attention, or delay in doing so, making a claim will be harder.

Find out more: Key things you need to do when getting medical help for a work injury

Keep a record of your accident and injuries

Try to get as much information about the defective equipment as you can, including:
  • photos of any defects,
  • the make and model, and
  • any serial numbers.

Ideally, you should ask your employer not to discard the defective equipment, as it may be useful to prove the cause of your accident when you decide to claim compensation. You can still claim, even if the equipment has been destroyed or thrown out.

Find out more: Gathering evidence after a work injury - checklist

How to report an accident involving defective equipment

You should promptly report an accident at work. This will make sure that the cause of the accident can be fixed or dealt with, preventing further injury. Reporting the accident will also ensure you have a written record of the incident.

If you were taken to hospital and could not report the accident in person, you should check that someone has notified your manager or supervisor. A family member or work colleague should be able to do this.

Find out more: Reporting a work accident

Can I make an accident claim for defective work equipment?

In general, if you have been injured at work, you are likely to have a claim for compensation. You must usually start your claim within three years of the accident, or three years from the date you learned of your injuries.

Financial help if I can't work

Financial support, including Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), may be available to you, depending on your circumstances.

You may also be able to claim injury compensation. Your compensation will cover the expenses you have incurred due to your injuries, and will also include lost earnings.

How will my employment status affect my right to claim?

The claims process for full-time workers is generally simpler than for self-employed contracts or agency workers, but you should still be able to claim compensation.

Read more about claiming if you are:

How much can I claim for a work equipment accident?

The nature of injuries caused by defective work equipment can vary widely. It is usually the type and severity of each injury that determines the level of compensation, rather than how the accident happened:

  • The location of the injury (back injury, hand injury, foot injury etc.)
  • The nature of the injury (laceration, fracture, crush damage)
  • The seriousness of the injury (mild, moderate, severe, life-changing)
  • How long it will take you to recover
  • The overall impact of the injury on your ability to work and function in everyday life
  • The amount of pain you experience
  • Whether you need ongoing care and assistance
  • Likely future complications, for example, whether the injury will require future surgery or lead to conditions such as arthritis
  • For some injuries and illnesses, your age and gender

The Work Accident Advice Centre online calculator sets out what you can claim for, and how much compensation you could claim.

No win, no fee defective work equipment claims

No win, no fee work injury claims are made using a solicitor. Your solicitor will correspond with your employer and their insurance company, to negotiate the best compensation settlement for you.

Under a No Win, No Fee agreement, solicitors' legal fees will only be payable if the claim is successful. Under a No Win, No Fee agreement, a solicitor will receive a success fee of up to 25% of a claimant's compensation.

If your No Win, No Fee claim is not successful, you will have no legal fees to pay.

Find out more: Making a No Win, No Fee claim

Get the right advice

We offer free, impartial advice to injured workers in the UK. We will listen to what happened, answer your questions and clearly explain your options.

If you decide to claim, we can recommend the right solicitor for your circumstances.

0800 218 2227

We're open until 6pm.

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