Home Insights & Advice Lawsuits target failure to provide adequate PPE

Lawsuits target failure to provide adequate PPE

by John Saunders
26th Jan 22 3:03 pm

Employers in Great Britain that require personal protective equipment (PPE) on the job site will have to provide specialized clothing or equipment to a broader category of workers under proposed changes to the health and safety regulations. It’s a change that will affect small and medium-sized businesses. Suitable PPE will be provided to “limb” workers, who fall outside the definition of employees – in other words, dependent contractors. Since most organisations have already been providing personal protective equipment, this doesn’t involve drastic change. Food service establishments using workers will have to make a serious logistical and financial commitment to ensure helmets and so on.

The consequences of health and safety non-compliance are devastating. Businesses that fail to keep workers safe face financial penalties, industry disqualification, reputation damage, and endangering lives. If an employer doesn’t provide the necessary PPE or they provide inadequate PPE, which increases the risk of injury and infection, they can be sued. The human cost of negligence is great. Regardless of the type or severity of the injury, the employer is liable if someone is injured or falls ill on the job. That’s because they negligently failed to provide personal protective equipment that otherwise would minimize the risk of exposure, so there is ground for bringing a lawsuit.

What PPE are employers required to provide?

PPE is equipment that protects the user against health and safety risks at work. It includes the following items:

  • Safety helmets
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • High-visibility clothing
  • Safety footwear
  • Safety harnesses
  • Respiratory protective equipment

When selecting and using personal protective equipment, it’s essential to make sure the products are CE or UKCA marked. The equipment should suit the user, meaning that it should be the proper size, fit, and weight.

When is PPE considered inadequate?

Personal protective equipment must meet certain standards. The technical specifications define the minimum requirements for the product to ensure good quality, safety, and efficacy. If the PPE is inadequate or needs replacing, the employer should be notified because it no longer provides protection. An example of inadequate personal protective equipment is eye goggles that don’t fit perfectly and slip off during work. Here’s another example: protective masks that have holes in them. Not only should the employer make sure that workers have the PPE fit for the purpose, but also provide training to cover the proper use of this equipment, which guards health and safety.

When an employee sue due to the lack of adequate PPE

The most ill-famed failures to provide PPE are in the health and social care sectors. The supply of adequate personal protective equipment is desirable, but some people are forced to put up with shortages. In the construction industry, it can make the difference between life and death. Well-fitted PPE prevents injuries to the lungs, eyes, head, ears, and skin. It should be provided free of charge and be readily available on an as-needed basis. If this isn’t the case and a person has been injured or fallen sick, they may be able to make a personal injury claim.

Without personal protective equipment, there’s the risk of:

  • Impacts & collisions
  • Being struck by falling objects
  • Cuts & punctures
  • Electric shocks
  • Chemical burns
  • Exposure to excessive noise and vibrations

According to LegalExpert.co.uk, the go-to resource for getting a better understanding of the law, bringing a case for inadequate PPE can be complex. It’s necessary to prove that the employer owed a duty of care, which was breached by not providing proper personal protective equipment or safe workplace conditions. A claim for negligence involves an injury or illness that is measured in terms of costs, including medical expenses, loss of income, etc. In some instances, the case may go only through workers’ compensation.

As with most personal injury claims, there is a time limit to making a claim, namely three years from the date of the incident or the onset of the condition caused by the lack of PPE. Some lung conditions, such as asthma, caused by inadequate PPE, may take some time to become visible. Put simply, the symptoms develop over time. If you’ve been injured or fallen ill and you’re in doubt about your eligibility, contact a solicitor as soon as possible. Don’t face the legal challenges on your own. If you or someone you know has been injured or fallen ill because of unsafe working conditions, take legal action right away.

Each case is unique, so the compensation award depends on several factors. Undoubtedly, the most critical aspect is the severity of the injury/injuries and the ability to lead an independent life. General damages compensate for the loss of income, besides pain and suffering. Special damages, on the other hand, compensate for future medical expenses, incurred as the result of the injury or illness. Following an accident, it’s paramount to seek medical attention, report the accident, identify eyewitnesses, and document the incident.

Businesses want a shield against lawsuits. But what about safety?

The number of lawsuits has increased dramatically increased in recent times. Although efforts are made to solve litigation in a quick and cost-effective manner, things don’t always work out for the best. A lawsuit can tarnish the reputation of the organisation and impact the bottom line, as it might be necessary to put business on hold. It’s better to avoid a lawsuit than to go up against an opponent in court. Suitable personal protective equipment should be provided to all employees exposed to risk. Some job sites are inherently hazardous, so complying with health and safety regulations is of the essence.

By applying the hierarchy of controls, a company can eliminate some of the problems associated with hazardous job sites. Controls can be applied to machinery, equipment, processes, and procedures. The hazard should be eliminated altogether. For instance, toxic chemical splashes cause the worst damage. Establishing a health and safety best practice isn’t enough. It’s necessary to communicate it to the workforce. Employees are at least partially responsible for their safety. Informed, engaged workers are less likely to get involved in accidents. When dealing with safety, it’s better to be proactive than reactive.

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