As well as providing a safe working environment, an employer is also responsible for providing safe fellow employees.
In practice, this usually means ensuring that they have the necessary skills to do the job and receive appropriate training.
The responsibility of the employer for the actions of their employees is reflected by a principle known as ‘vicarious liability.’ Although this principle has a number of different applications, in a pure workplace context, it reflects the fact that although the injury may have directly been caused by another employee, it is the employer who has a duty to ensure that all employees are safe and competent to carry out their duties.
So, as we have seen in previous cases successfully handled by Specters, if employee A is not paying attention and carelessly drives a forklift truck into employee B, then employee B can bring a claim against their employer for failing to make sure that employee B was safe and competent when using a forklift. If employee C spills their bottle of water and employee D slips on the spillage, employee D can bring a claim against their employer for failing to make sure that employee C was properly trained to clean up the spillage.
Some of this might seem dreadfully unfair; there is only so much an employer can do, and they cannot be expected to watch all their employees every second of the day to make sure that they are safe. If employee C, for instance, had training the week before, but simply cannot be bothered to clean up after himself, why should the employer be responsible?
This might be a valid point, but vicarious liability reflects just how seriously the law takes an employer’s duty towards their employees. It also reflects the general policy that an injured person should, as far as possible not be left without a remedy. Although the fellow employee may be in the wrong, they are perhaps unlikely to have the means or the insurance cover to compensate the injured person; the employer is likely to have both.
What this means is that if you have been injured by the actions of a fellow employee while at work, you may be able to bring a claim.
Even where it seems like a pure accident and even where it was not, strictly speaking, the employer’s fault, Specters have recovered compensation for injured workers. If you believe you might have a claim, the team will be happy to discuss your circumstances and your options. If we believe that you have a claim, we may be able to offer you a no-win, no-fee agreement.