The causes of industrial accidents, injuries and illness
The standard of health and safety at UK factories and chemical works is generally high, but accidents still happen. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), manufacturing is one of the UK's most dangerous sectors.
Industrial workers handle potentially harmful substances, including chlorine, ammonia, benzene and strong acids. Depending on the industry and job role, workers may work with molten metal, toxic dust such as silica and asbestos, and biological hazards.
In addition, industrial workers use and work around tools, heavy machinery, lifters, loaders and goods vehicles that can all cause crush injuries, head injuries, lacerations and other serious harm.
To protect industrial workers, the UK has a wide range of legislation concerning:
- the maintenance of dangerous equipment,
- the handling of chemicals and other harmful substances, and
- the importance of adequate training, first aid, and health and safety checks.
Dangerous substances are often used or stored in large volumes, and industrial accidents can result in multiple casualties. The HSE take industrial accidents and near-misses very seriously. The HSE investigate serious breaches and may pursue criminal proceedings against negligent employers.
What should I do if I am injured in an industrial accident?
Seek medical assistance
There are several reasons to see your GP, after even a relatively minor work injury. Your doctor will:
- Recommend treatments
- Advise you on the likely recovery time
- Make a detailed record of the type and seriousness of your injuries
- Sign you ff work if necessary
In the case of industrial accidents involving exposure to hazardous fumes and other harmful substances, it is also important to get medical attention even if you don't feel any immediate symptoms.
Having a detailed medical record of all your injuries can be very helpful evidence in the event you do decide to claim compensation.
Even if you don’t plan to start a compensation claim now, you should still keep a record or file containing any company correspondence, your own notes, accident reports, photos of the scene and witness contact details.
You could also keep a diary of medical appointments, expenses relating to your injuries, and notes about how your recovery is progressing and how your life has been affected.
Any compensation you receive will reflect the impact that your injuries have had on your life and work. It can be difficult to remember the full impact you felt at the time of your accident. Having a written file to hand can make it easier for your solicitor to build a case and make sure you get the correct compensation amount.
Reporting the accident
Although employers are only required to report more serious accidents, reporting any accident or injury at work is best practice. RIDDOR, REACH and other legislation require certain accidents to be reported, even if no one was hurt.
Once you have received medical attention and the site of the accident has been made safe, you should report the incident to your manager or supervisor. If you cannot, ask someone else at your workplace to do so. If you are a contractor you should inform the person you report to.
Can I claim for an industrial accident?
If you were injured in the last 3 years and someone else was to blame, you may be able to claim financial compensation. If you have been diagnosed with an industrial illness resulting from prolonged exposure (e.g. mesothelioma or silicosis), the clock starts ticking on the date of diagnosis.
Financial support after an industrial accident
If you have been injured at work, you may be entitled to claim financial support. Your options include:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Work accident compensation
In some cases, you may also be entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA is available to workers who have made National Insurance contributions in the last two years and is also available if you are self-employed.
General damages compensation for work injuries is more complicated, especially if you have multiple injuries. is calculated with reference to a published guide used by lawyers. The guide is called the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases.
Our calculator gives a good idea of what your compensation award could be, with reference to both special damages and the general damages guidelines.
You can claim for any financial losses that were caused by the accident (known as special damages).
Calculating special damages is straightforward. Any losses or expenses you incur as a result of the accident are simply added up. Special damages can include:
- Lost wages, including overtime
- Travel costs for hospital and GP appointments
- Physiotherapy and other treatment costs
Could my work status stop me from claiming?
Your employment status may affect how claiming compensation works, but you should still be able to claim even if you are on a temp contract or are an agency worker.
Read more about how different job types change the claims process:
How much compensation can I claim for an industrial accident?
Compensation is calculated by adding Special and General damages together and deducting any success fees you may have agreed with your solicitor.
Making a No Win, No Fee claim for an industrial accident
To make a claim for an industrial accident, you will need to appoint a solicitor.
Work injury claims in the UK are usually made on a No Win, No Fee basis as Legal Aid is no longer available for work accident claims.
Your solicitor will ask you to sign a 'Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)' which is the legal term for 'No Win, No Fee'. The CFA will set out the terms and conditions of the agreement, what your solicitor will do for you and what fees they will receive if you win. Under a No Win, No Fee agreement, a solicitor will receive a success fee of up to 25% of a claimant's compensation.
Our work injury advisors will:
- Offer free, impartial advice
- Explain how No Win, No Fee works
- Recommend the right solicitor