Controversial changes to the civil liability rules for health and safety breaches came into effect last week. The changes mean that the burden of proof following many injuries at work will be switched from the employer to the employee.
This could make it more difficult for workers to claim damages if they have been injured at work.
Until now, damages claims that are based on an employer’s statutory duty to protect his employees have been relatively easy to prove, as the worker did not have to show negligence on the part of the employer – simply that the duty had been breached.
Now, however, the worker will generally have to show that the employer has been negligent before he can succeed in his claim for damages.
According to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), this change will tilt the playing field in favour of negligent bosses and away from injured workers.
“The employer holds all the important information about any incident, such as maintenance records or previously reported dangers and risks,” said APIL President, Matthew Stockwell. “The injured employee will have to prove the case against his employer, which can be extremely difficult when he does not have access to this kind of information.”
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