Posted on 1st August 2016
You may have heard that around 2 years ago Harrison Ford broke his leg whilst on-board the Millennium Falcon shooting the most recent Star Wars movie.
Just this past week a Disney owned production company has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in relation to the accident. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution and was finally able to press the production company into admitting to failing to protect actors and staff.
The company whilst admitting guilt simultaneously stated that safety was always a top priority on set. Indeed when the criminal charges were originally brought they simply stated they were disappointed by HSE’s decision. They could have admitted guilt immediately but chose not to.
What this case demonstrates is that, no matter who you are, there are risks in the workplace. It also shows that there is a real chance the company in control of the workplace will probably try to suggest they were doing everything right and were not at fault.
I currently act for a number of clients who have been injured at work. The injuries range from straightforward slips/trips to more serious industrial accidents involving heavy machinery. I firmly believe that these accidents could have been avoided if the employers had firstly carried out appropriate assessments of the risks in the workplace and had secondly implemented best practice to avoid the risks.
The thing I find most alarming is not just how often avoidable accidents occur but how often liability is denied and how much pressure it takes to reach a point where a settlement is obtained on behalf of the injured worker.
My clients have all found legal representation and are pursuing claims to make sure they have the best possible chance of obtaining compensation. However, there are many people injured at work who are simply met with employers who tell them right from the off that they have no claim and so drop the matter.
The HSE produce statistics which suggest there were 611,000 injuries at work in 2014/2015. This is against approximately 45,000 claims being submitted online in the same time frame for accidents at work.
It can of course be accepted that a lot of accidents at work are minor or are without fault. But looking at the statistics, the fact that claims are brought in less than 7.5% of accidents at work suggests to me that there are significant numbers of people just accepting the pain, suffering and other losses when there could well be cause to make a legitimate claim.
Harrison Ford was probably rather well looked after following his accident. Despite this we still heard protestations of innocence right up until this week’s guilty plea from those responsible for his accident.
Anyone injured at work who believes more should have been done by those in charge to prevent their accident has a right to have the matter at least considered further. The HSE, whilst a useful body do not always get involved, especially where accidents have not been correctly reported to them, or are considered less serious.
As a result I would implore anyone injured at work who believes they were not at fault to at least speak to a legal professional about their options in bringing a claim because employers will simply act to protect themselves.
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