Dangerous Machine Injury: How to make a compensation claim for a work injury caused by dangerous machinery
In this article we discuss what a dangerous machine injury claim is; how your employer can still be liable despite the machine that caused your injury not being used exclusively for work or is used away from the workplace; the many ways your employer must protect your safety when using dangerous work machinery from the use of machine guards to ensuring correct lighting in the workplace; links to our articles explaining how to fund your claim using a no win no fee and calculate your compensation payouts with access to our specialist solicitor free help options..
What is a dangerous machine injury claim?
A machine is a dangerous type of work equipment.
Your employer must protect your safety when you are using a machine or other work equipment.
Work equipment includes “any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work”.
Examples of work equipment can include: machinery – such as large cutting machines or presses; appliances – such as an office microwave; a power tool – such as a power drill; apparatus – such as the work lift.
If you are injured whilst using a machine at work and your employer can be shown to be legally at fault – you will be able to make a dangerous machine injury compensation claim.
What does using a work machine include?
Using a work machine does not only mean using the machine in the literal sense, but also doing any activity with the machine can be considered using it. Examples include starting or stopping the machine, maintaining it, inspecting it, cleaning it, repairing it, programming it, transporting it.
Should you be injured during any of these activities – you will likely be able to make a dangerous machine injury claim.
Must the equipment be used exclusively for work to be able to make a claim against your employer?
“No” – your employer can be responsible for work equipment that is not used exclusively for work.
In some occasionally you may use equipment privately, as well as at work, as you may have supplied the piece of equipment yourself.
For example – imagine the power drill at work was being repaired and so your employer requests you bring your own drill from home to do the work task. Should that drill prove to be faulty – it may be that your employer will be found responsible for any injury you might suffer.
What if the dangerous machine is used away from the workplace?
Work equipment need not necessarily always be used at your employer’s workplace premises.
Consider jobs in which you are required to attend at customers’ sites to use work machinery or other equipment to perform tasks.
If the machine supplied by your employer causes you injury whilst working off-site, a dangerous machine injury claim can be still be made against your employer.
What should your employer look out for so as to prevent a dangerous machine injury?
Various health and safety laws protect you when using dangerous machinery at work – imposing strict duties on your employer. One such very important piece of law is the The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations / PUWER.
Some of the duties and considerations your employer must take into account, include:
Is the work machine suitable for the intended purpose?
The work equipment must be constructed or adapted to be suitable for the task it is intended to be used in given the work environment it is to be used in.
In other words – a machine in perfect working order being used for the wrong task or in an unsafe environment – could make it dangerous for use.
For example – Imagine a pallet truck being used on an icy surface causing it to slip and hit a worker or a metal cutting machine being used to cut wood.
Has the work machinery been properly maintained and a log kept?
Work machinery should be properly maintained, so as to be in efficient working order and safe for use.
If the machine has a maintenance log – your employer must keep this up-to-date.
Remember – a machine that is designed for a task can still be dangerous if it is not maintained correctly.
For example – a machine might jump due to warn out parts catching, the sudden jolt causing you injury.
Is inspection of work machinery necessary?
The safe operation of some work machines may depend on how the equipment is installed. In such cases – your employer must ensure the machinery is inspected after it is first installed, before it used and, if moved, it should be further inspected before it is used again.
Some machines are exposed to conditions that could cause the safe functioning to deteriorate – in such case your employer should ensure that the machinery is inspected at regular intervals or following an event that could compromise the machine’s safety. A record should be kept of all the inspections.
Some types of work machinery have more specific safety rules – such as power presses / power press guards; mine winding machinery and work equipment used for lifting loads (including lifting people – such as patients in a medical setting).
Is specific training needed for machines with special risks?
Some machinery is inherently dangerous and can only be operated, maintained or serviced by workers with specific training and expertise.
To avoid a dangerous machine injury – your employer must ensure that you have adequate training and expertise before operating such equipment.
Be aware – this training will also apply to your supervisor, who must have the expertise to ensure that you are doing work safely.
Do you need to be supplied with instructions and health and safety information?
Your employer should supply you with the relevant instructions and health and safety information prior to use of the work machine. Your supervisor should also have access to such information.
The information should include how to use the machine safely and specific actions that should be taken when unusual situations occur.
Should access to dangerous parts of work machinery be prevented?
Certain machinery parts are extremely dangerous – risking trapping your clothing or body parts, such as your fingers or hand. Various different crush, impact or cut injuries can occur.
Your employer should prevent access to any dangerous machine part or dangerous moving machine parts.
Be aware – If access is necessary for maintenance or repair – the movement of any dangerous machine part should be stopped before you enter the area where you at risk of injury.
How can access to dangerous machinery parts be best prevented?
Access to machine parts can be prevented by using fixed machine guards that enclosed every dangerous, moving or rotating machine part.
The guards must be well constructed, suitable for the purpose intended, should be maintained, should not be able to be easily bypassed or disabled; keep you a sufficient distance from the dangerous area (the place where you at risk of injury); not obstruct your view and be constructed to allow the easy replacement of spare parts, etc.
Be aware – even if you yourself are careless to your own safety, such as by bypassing a machine guard to work faster, you may still be able to claim compensation for a dangerous machine injury. See our claiming compensation despite worker carelessness article.
How is safety ensured if machine guards cannot be fitted?
If the fitting of machine guards is not practically possible – your employer should use protective appliances to keep you away from the moving part, such as push sticks or levers.
If protective appliances cannot be used – your employer should provide information, training and supervision to ensure your safety.
Can extra protection be provided for specific hazards of particular machines?
Some machines have specific dangers or hazards, that other machines may not have, for which your employer can provide extra protection to prevent injury.
Specific hazards might include falling or rising objects; machine fire or overheating; failure or rupture of machine parts; unexpected discharge of gases or other substances produced or used by the machine; explosion of the machine or substance produced.
There are some hazards that are considered so significant that special health and safety laws are necessary to spell out the additional worker protection that is necessary.
Such hazards include: the presence of asbestos at work; hazardous substances and chemicals in the workplace; excessive work noise exposure; head protection in construction; radiation exposure at work and the presence of lead in the workplace.
Remember – if a dangerous machine injury results from your employer failing to provide the extra protectio, it is likely your compensation claim will succeed
Does the work machinery produce high or very low temperatures?
If work machinery itself produces excessive heat or extreme cold – you could be burnt or scalded when using the machine.
Your employer should provide additional protection to prevent this type of injury.
Watch out – the machine might use substances that are themselves hot or cold. Your employer should equally be sure to protect you from injury by these substances.
Should the machine have an emergency stop button?
“Yes” – machinery should have an emergency stop button or control that is readily accessible to workers in the case of an emergency.
How can an electric shock be avoided?
Workers should be isolated from the machine’s power source (such as electricity) to prevent injury (such as the risk of electric shock or electrocution).
What about stability, lighting, markings & warnings?
A work machine should be properly clamped so as to be stable.
The lighting in the area of the machine, where work is to be carried out, should be sufficient given the work task you must do.
Machinery should be properly marked so as to be clearly visible to all workers and employees and so prevent accidental injury.
Machinery should have appropriate warnings on the machine itself of specific dangers. Warnings should be clear, easily visible and easy to understand.
Is the machine of a type that needs special precautions to be made?
Special precautions exist for mobile work equipment (such as forklift trucks) – there are risks of employees being run over or the machine toppling.
Power presses also have additional health and safety requirements, such as thorough examinations of the power press and its protective guards, the need to prepare reports and keep information.
Funding your claim using a no win no fee
We recommend you see our article funding a work accident claim using a no win no fee for an explanation of how a no win no fee agreement can be used to fund your solicitor’s costs in making your claim.
Calculating the amount of compensation your injury is worth
We have written extensive articles setting out the compensation payout amounts for all body types and psychological injuries. We recommend you see our index article calculating compensation amounts for bodily and psychological injury with a summary and link to each article.
Dangerous Machine Injury Summary
In this article we have explained the risks of using dangerous machinery at work and the requirements on your employer to protect your safety.
Specialist solicitor free online help
We understand how traumatic injury from work machinery can be, so we provide a number of specialist solicitor free help options if you have suffered a dangerous machine injury.
You can ask an online question or discuss your accident circumstances to know whether you have a claim and what options are available to you.