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Construction site accidents

Solicitors in London

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Chambers UK

Construction site accidents

Construction site workers face physical dangers every day at work. This is why there is a wealth of health and safety legislation requiring employers and those in control of construction work and building sites to risk assess all work operations, to ensure that their workers are properly trained and have the correct equipment. Common industrial construction site accidents include slips and trips, falls from scaffolding and falling objects.

The current government is reforming the law to weaken the law in this area but as things stand at present there is a good chance of winning a claim for an accident at work unless it was caused solely by the injured person themselves.

At risk workers

Despite the protection of the law, there are many construction workers who are at particular risk and may be reluctant to claim for any injuries. Those most at risk tend to be ‘casual’ workers who are registered as self employed under the Government’s Construction Industry Scheme.

There may be up to 1 million casual workers with self employed status in the UK. Most of them are not truly self employed, but are described as such to allow them to be engaged, often by agencies, without national insurance payments and with reduced worker safety rights.

London construction site claims

In London’s large construction sector nearly 40% of all workers are migrants. Bulgarians and Romanians now enjoy the same freedom of movement as workers from other European Union states, so they can officially work here as ’employed’ or as ‘self employed’ construction workers.

Many of our construction industry clients work with self employed status and we are still able to bring successful claims for nearly all of them. This is because in many cases we can show that the relationship is in reality one of employer-employee and in any event there are still health and safety duties owed to the self employed. If a self employed worker is injured because of the negligence of another worker or organisation he will still be able to bring a claim.

Making an injury claim

Some construction site workers are reluctant to bring a claim because they may lose their job. In reality most are not kept on if they are unable to work through injury anyway, because their self employed status means they are not eligible for sick leave or sick pay. For employees with full employment status, they would have a further claim, for Unfair Dismissal, if the employer sacked them because they were off work on sick leave.

The employer is required by law to have liability insurance for worker accidents and so in practice the claim is dealt with and paid for by the insurers, and the employer accepts this. So it is rare for the employer to want to take any action against the employee.

Another reason a migrant construction worker might be reluctant to bring a claim is because of issues with their immigration status. We can usually advise on these issues and most claims will still succeed. Please contact us for free no obligation advice on a personal injury claim.

Due to the nature of the work those working in the construction injury are at increased risk of sustaining a head injury after an accident. Find out more about our expertise in serious head injury accident claims.

Recent case study

Mr C worked for a plant hire company. He drove a low loader lorry to a construction site and unloaded the vehicles from the back. There was a dumper truck and two diggers, all chained together. The wheels were caked in mud. As he reversed one of the diggers off the back of the lorry the tyres could not grip on the surface of the low loader and it slid off the side, landing on its roof.

The legal case against them was that it was foreseeable that the vehicles’ tyres would be covered in mud because they had been used on construction sites; the employers should therefore have ensured that there was a supply of sand and a shovel in the lorry or that arrangements were made with the site main contractors for the wheels to be hosed down on arrival at the site.

Mr C was fortunate to escape with only a fracture to his ankle. The fracture needed surgery but he recovered well and was back at work within six weeks.

The employers denied liability and so court proceedings were issued but their insurers obtained a barrister’s advice after which they agreed to deal with the claim. Liability was then admitted and the case was settled for £8000 damages plus the legal costs.

If you work or worked in construction and experienced an injury due to an accident at work, contact our specialist team of lawyers who can advise you on whether or not you are eligible to make a claim for accident compensation.

Written by Stuart Kightley

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