When tired or fatigued, concentration levels can drop quite dramatically increasing the chances of you having an accident and becoming injured or indeed, to injure others. Tiredness whilst at work should be taken seriously by employers, but particularly in occupations where the work involves using machinery, driving of vehicles, working in a factory, or on a construction site. The reason being that an accident could result in serious injury, or in extreme circumstances, even death.
Employers have a duty of care to ensure that the workload or working hours are in line with health and safety regulations. If their negligence results in you being involved in tiredness related accidents in a workplace that results in injury, they may be found in breach of their health and safety responsibilities. This could entitle you to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim against them.
Making a claim for compensation isn’t always an easy task and having legal assistance can be a great help. Legal Helpline has a panel of personal injury solicitors with many years’ experience. They can help you to make a successful claim for compensation, just contact us on 0161 696 9685.
Jump To A Section
- A Guide On Claims For Fatigue Related Accidents In The Workplace
- What Are Workplace Accidents Caused By tiredness Or Fatigue?
- Employer’s Duty Of Care To Prevent Fatigue And Tiredness
- What Are The Symptoms Of Tiredness And Fatigue?
- Risks Which Could Cause Tiredness And Fatigue Related Accidents
- Industries In Which Tiredness And Fatigue Could Affect Employees
- Injuries Due To Workplace Tiredness And Fatigue
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Caused By Workplace Stress
- When Are You Eligible To Claim For An Accident Caused By Fatigue Or Tiredness?
- Tiredness And Fatigue Accident In The Workplace Compensation Calculator
- Special Damages Which Are Claimable
- Why Select Legal Helpline For Your Claim
- No Win No Fee Claims For Fatigue Related Accidents In the Workplace
- Start A Claim For A Fatigue Related Accident
- Medical And Claims Resources
All employers across the UK are responsible for their employees’ health and safety whilst they are at work. This includes taking precautions to ensure they are not overloaded with work in a single shift, that they have regular breaks and are not working for a long periods of time without necessary breaks to reduce the risk of accidents resulting from fatigue or tiredness occurring.
Risk assessments should be carried out where necessary, and sensible rotas, working shifts should be in place where required. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) there are more than 3.5 million shift workers across the UK who work in a variety of different industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, transport, and entertainment to name a few.
If shifts are poorly designed, or working hours too long, workers may become fatigued which could lead to poor concentration levels. According to statistics on the HSE website, in transport 20% of all major road accidents are related to tiredness and fatigue and costs the UK between £115 and £240 million per year.
If you have sustained an injury whilst at work due to being overtired and you believe that your tiredness was caused by your employer’s negligence, you may be able to start a claim. To help you understand the process of filing a claim and what it involves, Legal Helpline has produced this guide which covers an employer’s duty of care, work fatigue symptoms, the risks that might cause a workplace accident, which industries are particularly at risk from fatigue and accidents at work, and types of injuries that may result from tiredness at work.
We also look at Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how it can be caused by workplace stress. We discuss circumstances which could entitle you to make a claim, what damages can be claimed, how much compensation you may receive if successful, and how having a No Win No Fee solicitor can be really useful. If after reading you would like to discuss your own individual case in more detail, contact us at Legal Helpline for assistance.
In general, fatigue in the workplace is the result of poorly organised shift schedules and excessive working hours. This can lead to a decline in mental awareness and physical performance due to poor concentration, prolonged exertion, loss of sleep, or there is a disruption in the usual sleep pattern and internal clock.
Fatigue and tiredness are often related to work that is monotonous, complicated or machine-paced. Tiredness causes slower reaction times as the capability of processing information is reduced. There could be lapses in memory, lack of attention, a decrease in awareness, and coordination is reduced. All these issues associated with tiredness can lead to accidents resulting in injury in a workplace.
Regardless of whether staff is temporary or permanent, all employers in the UK are legally obliged to protect them from harm in the workplace. Any hazards need to be managed in order to reduce the risk of accidents from happening. Tiredness and fatigue should be recognised as a hazard in its own right, and if the employers fail to do so, and do not manage the problem, they may be seen as being negligent in their duty of care towards their employees.
The Management Of Health And Safety At Work Regulations 1999 states that staff should be protected from harm whilst at work, which therefore includes managing and preventing exhaustion in a work environment. If an employer is negligent in their duty of care and fatigue management in a workplace is non-existent, this could cause an accident at work.
In certain industries that are considered to be higher risk industries, employers have a particular duty of care to ensure that their employees are protected by sufficiently managing tiredness at work. Ways of doing this include taking regular risk assessments to check the following:
- Working hours
- Type of work
In regards to shift work, employers must ensure that they take into account and check every aspect of the job that could pose a risk of fatigue including:
- Shift patterns
- Length of shift
- Number of breaks allocated per shift
Employers must make sure they are aware of how much overtime is being carried out and how many shift swaps there may be. If they suspect that any one person’s work hours have become too long for any reason, they should look at improving staff levels or changing the shift patterns so they are more effective. Working Time Regulation 1998 give guidance on what is expected of employers and include the following:
- Employees may only work up to 6 hours without a break of at least 15, 30 or 45 minutes depending on total hours to be worked
- Employees are not to work longer than 48 hours over a week
- Adult employees are allowed to have at least 11 hours break in between shifts
- Adult employees are entitled to take at least one day off per seven days
- For people working a night shift, they must not work longer than 8 hours in the daytime
In the transport industry, the regulations are slightly different for drivers and include:
- They must not drive more than 9 hours in total in a day
- Drivers are allowed to work up to 56 hours per week compared to the 48 hours for non-driving occupations
- After driving for 4.5 hours, drivers must take a break of at least 45 minutes
If you have regularly started to work increasingly long shifts, or long hours at night, you are at risk of becoming fatigued at work which can increase the likelihood of you having an accident and being injured. In fact, some employees may suffer a ‘burnout’ episode which means they reach a state of chronic stress from fatigue which is where they are emotionally and physically exhausted, have feelings of being ineffective, cynicism, detachment and also feelings of a lack of accomplishment.
Burnout will leave the sufferer unable to function as they normally would on a professional level. Before full burnout strikes, there are other symptoms that are telltale signs of extreme tiredness and exhaustion setting in, these include:
- Weariness and tiredness
- Sleepiness where you may fall asleep against your will
- Reduction in concentration, memory, and alertness
- Reduced feelings of motivation
- Loss of appetite
- Lowered immune system
- Digestive issues
There are numerous factors that can affect the risk of accidents occurring at work, one being tiredness or fatigue, and therefore any hazards that may result in an employee becoming overtired must be managed carefully. Other fatigued related risk elements that need to be carefully managed include:
- Night shifts may be deemed higher risk due to possibly longer hours without the necessary breaks and sometimes being at the end of the shift rota
- All employers should consider carefully any changes made to your working hours and they must adhere to the Health and Safety Executive’s principles, taking into account the HSE fatigue risk index
- Even when an employer works to the Working Time Regulations in UK legislation, it is not always enough when considering risks for tiredness and fatigue. All employers in the UK have a legal duty of care to take into consideration any possible risk factors in relation to fatigue when overtime or a change in shift rotas are requested by employees.
- Limits on working hours should be decided and set by employers with respect to overtime and changing of shift patterns. They need to make sure that the limits are respected at all times by employees
- When discussing working hours and shift patterns with employees, employers must ensure that the hours set or shifts given do not put the employee at a higher risk of suffering work-induced fatigue
- If requests for shift swaps and overtime become commonplace, the employer needs to consider that they may need to improve shift rotas, or employ more staff as it may be that there is a shortage of staff.
- Employers need to take into consideration that sleep disturbances often experienced by night staff may result in fatigue, as can sleep-deprivation
- When scheduling the shifts, employers must take into account the workload, length of hours, timing of breaks during a shift, and the amount of rest between shifts
If an employer fails in their duty of care causing an employee to become fatigued at work resulting in an accident, the employee may have the legal right to claim compensation for damages.
There are some industries where fatigue and tiredness are a lot riskier and could result in serious injuries being sustained. Some of these industries include:
- Healthcare and hospital services
- Emergency services
- Gas industry
- Oil industry
- Transport including company, truck, and delivery drivers
- Chemical industry
Very often plant and machinery are used as well as chemicals in these working environments, increasing the risk of serious injury should an employee have an accident because of fatigue. Some jobs can also be monotonous and tedious leading to feelings of fatigue, particularly if shift hours are long with minimal breaks. Employers need to consider the type of work being undertaken and ensure the working hours are suitable. Failure to do this may lead to fatigue and accidents at work which they could be held responsible for.
Other industries where tiredness can be prevalent include:
Shift workers, in particular night workers, are at an increased risk of suffering from fatigue and tiredness because their natural body clock is disrupted leading to poor quality of sleep and sleep patterns.
Non-fatal injuries to employees by most common accident kinds
Main kinds of fatal accident for workers 2018/2019 RIDDOR
The graphs above show the statistics for non-fatal and fatal injuries reported to RIDDOR in 2018/19 and the kinds of accidents the injuries were resultant from. Fatigue and tiredness could easily be a contributing factor, if not the cause of many of these accidents and injuries. Injuries sustained due to accidents caused by excessive work can range from mild to very severe and even fatal.
Examples of injuries resulting from the effects of fatigue in the workplace may include:
- Burns and scalds ranging from mild to severe
- Cuts and lacerations ranging from mild to severe
- Concussion or other head injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Severed fingers/limbs
- Back or neck injuries
If you have been injured due to exhaustion at work and believe someone else is to blame, you may be entitled to claim for compensation providing you can prove liability. Not all accidents at work due to tiredness will lead to a compensation claim, however, and if you’re in any way unsure as to where you stand legally, please contact Legal Helpline and we will be able to help you determine if you have a valid claim.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), although becoming a recognised illness, it still not entirely understood as there is not an awful lot known about the illness at present. However, it is known to be a debilitating illness that is hard to recover from even when long periods of rest have been taken. In fact, it is a ‘systemic exertion intolerance disease’. An accident at work due to tiredness could be caused if an employee was suffering from this disorder.
Current research and previous studies suggest that work-related stress or anxiety caused by long working hours, work overload and working nights disturbs your normal sleep pattern, and are risk factors contributing to the development of CFS which is now widely becoming accepted as a medical condition.
Anybody who has sustained an injury from a fatigue caused accident in the last 3 years that was the fault of a third party or due to their employer’s negligence, regardless of whether the injury was minor or more serious, could possibly be eligible to claim for compensation for the suffering and pain they have experienced that was no fault of their own.
Should this be the case and you were injured as a result, speaking with an experienced personal injury solicitor can help you determine if you have an eligible case against a negligent employer.
Legal Helpline work with a panel of personal injury lawyers that will be able to help you to ascertain whether or not you have a strong enough case to file a personal injury claim against your employer. We can explain what the employer’s responsibilities are regarding health and safety and fatigue, and how they may impact your case.
If you were to go ahead and file a compensation claim for fatigue related accident at work, you may ask how much compensation you could be owed if your case was a success. However, due to the many components that make up the settlement amount, and every case being unique, we cannot accurately say exactly how much compensation may be awarded to you. As a helpful guide though, we can show in the table below the payment amounts for some of the typical injuries in accordance with the Judicial College Guidelines:
|Head Injury Very Severe||£264,650 - £379,100||Severe brain damage, permanent disability, 24 hour care required|
|Head Injury - Severe||£205,580 - £264,650||Brain damage and serious disability, constant care required. Level of award dependant on quality of life|
|Head Injury - Moderate||£40,410 - £205,580||Moderate brain damage leading to poor concentration, personality change, reduced memory, unlikely to be able to work.|
|Head Injury Moderately Minor||£2,070 - £40,410||Recovery made but level of award will depend on length of recovery time and any long lasting or permanent effects|
|Back Injury - Severe||£36,390 - £151,070||Fractured disks or legions rising to damaged nerve roots and spinal cord. Severe pain, possible paralysis, permanent disability|
|Back Injury - Moderate||£11,730 - £36,390||Injuries not as severe as above but enough to cause pain and suffering, some disability and reduced ability to work as before, surgery may be required|
|Back Injury - Minor||£2,300 - £11,730||Injuries such as sprains, strains and disk prolapses. Level of award will depend on severity of injury, level of pain, recovery time and any on-going problems|
|Loss of Arms - Amputation||£225,960 - £281,520||Injuries to arms so severe, amputation required|
|Loss of One Arm - Amputation||£90,250 - £128,710||Level of compensation depends on where amputation was required, the higher amount for below shoulder amputation, then above elbow, and the lower for below elbow amputation|
|Hand Injury - Severe||£27,220 - £85,170||The higher amount for injuries that require fingers to be amputated, the lower amount for serious injury that render the hand useless.|
|Minor Injuries||£350 - £650||Injuries fully recovered in 7 days|
|Minor Injuries||£650 - £1,290||Injuries fully recovered in 28 days|
|Minor Injuries||£1,290 - £2,300||Injuries fully recovered in 3 months|
If you have sustained a workplace injury due to tiredness at work, and your employer is to blame, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to make a claim and what could be included in it. Below we list the type of things that will make up the overall claim award:
- General Damages – these relate to the physical or psychological injury and its effects
- Medical Expenses – any expenses incurred for medical needs relating to the injury can be included
- Travel expenses – any travel expenses incurred relating to the injury can be included
- Loss of Income – if time is needed away from work any loss of income or future income, that is lost can be claimed
- Care Claim – if you have needed help around the home whilst recovering, you can put in for a care claim
Although there are many legal firms across the UK that could help you make a personal injury claim, we like to think that we offer a very competitive service. Our panel of specialist personal injury solicitors have many years’ experience in the industry and have a great track record of successful claims, often succeeding in securing the maximum payment amount for our clients.
Not only do the solicitors at Legal helpline offer a free consultancy session where you can discuss the details of your case at no cost, but we also offer to make your claim for you with a No Win No Fee structure. We work efficiently and consistently to get our clients the compensation they deserve for injuries they sustained.
No Win No Fee claims involve legal help without having to make any payments for fees upfront or during the claiming process. Fees are only paid in the event the case is a success, and are paid as a small percentage of the overall award amount known as a ‘success fee’. If the case is unsuccessful, however, you are not required to pay your personal injury solicitor any fees. With No Win No Fee agreements there is no risk to your current finances.
Call Legal Helpline on 0161 696 9685 to start your claim for compensation. First of all, we will offer a free consultancy session where we can obtain all the relevant details, decide if you have a legitimate case, and answer any of the questions you may have. If in our professional legal opinion we feel you have a valid reason to claim, we may offer to make your claim on your behalf with a No Win No Fee structure.
Coping With Fatigue – Information from the NHS on how to cope with feelings of fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Further information regarding CFS from the NHS.
HSE Employer’s Management Of Fatigue Risks – Here you can look at ways in which employers should be managing the risks of fatigue in the workplace.
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Article by KH