Personal Injury
By Conal McGarrity
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Accidents at Work Involving Defective Equipment

Faulty, dangerous or otherwise defective equipment is the cause of a lot of accidents at work and can pose a high risk of injury to employees. Defective equipment can be a risk in any environment but is more prominent in areas such as engineering, building and wholesale production. As personal injury solicitors we encounter a vast array of different accidents in the workplace.

Quite often accidents involving work equipment can be caused by an employer’s negligence or breach of statutory duty. All employers are bound by Health and Safety Regulations which are designed to ensure that workers can operate in safe working environments. There is a varying degree of regulation applied depending on the place of work, type of work and type of equipment being used. For example, a workplace that requires ladders and scaffolding will obviously be subject to more intense regulation than an office.

What Are Your Employers Obligations?

  1. Your employer must carry out risk assessments for all equipment which is being used in the workplace. Any risks should be identified and mitigated where possible. Risk assessments should be carried out regularly to lower the risk of injury employees are exposed to.

  2. Proper maintenance must be provided to all equipment which are used in the workplace. This may include machinery and tools.

  3. In some circumstances it may not be the equipment which is defective but rather there may be a lack of knowledge on how to properly operate equipment. Proper training must be provided to employees on how to correctly and safely operate equipment. Levels of training will differ depending on the complexity and/or risk involved with using a particular item of equipment.

  4. Your employer must provide the correct work equipment which is suitable for the job being carried out.

  5. Your employer must provide personal protective equipment (PPE). This may include helmets, gloves, protective footwear and ear protection. Your employer does not have to provide every single item of PPE to encompass every scenario. Rather, PPE should be provided if there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury. This is why risk assessments are so important.

What Constitutes Negligence in Accidents Involving Defective Equipment? 

If your employer fails to implement any of the above procedures/mechanisms of work and an employee is injured as a result, then they will most likely be negligent and in breach of their statutory duty and you will be entitled to make a claim for compensation. As mentioned above, defective equipment is the cause of many accidents at work. Some of the most common accidents of this nature include:

  • Falling accidents – These are most common on construction site. Falling accidents can occur as a result of defective ladders, scaffolds, harnesses and/or lack of proper training or risk assessments. There are stringent regulations for working at height and failure to comply with these can pose a risk of serious injury and even a risk to life in some circumstances.

  • Crush Injuries – These are common in various occupations including engineering and wholesale production. Ordinarily crush injuries will involve heavy objects or machinery falling or colliding with an employee. This can be as a result of defective equipment, lack of maintenance for equipment and lack of proper training.

  • Working with knives and sharp equipment – this can include manual saws, ban saws, grinders. This is quite a common accident in factories which are involved in food production for example. The provision of adequate PPE is very important when it comes to this kind of work. For example, if you are working on a production line with sharp knives you should be provided with proper non slice gloves to mitigate the risk of injury.

In the context of accidents involving work equipment the level of risk to employees will be heightened if employers do not become more diligent in observing health and safety at work regulations. It is vitally important that employees know the obligations their employers are under in respect of ensuring that equipment and work procedures are maintained to an acceptable standard.

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