Warehouses and warehouse workers are essential in many businesses, such as online retail and supermarkets. Nonetheless, they are also dangerous workplaces, with thousands of UK employees hospitalised each year with severe injuries following a warehouse accident.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, your employer has a duty to protect you from potential risks at work. They must provide proper training and safety equipment, make sure all machinery is in good working order and keep the working environment free of hazards.
If your employer breached their duty of care towards you, resulting in an injury, you might be able to make a warehouse accident claim. Common reasons leading to a claim include slips, trips and falls, machinery accidents, forklift accidents and manual handling injuries.
Am I eligible to make a warehouse accident claim?
If you feel like your warehouse accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you should contact a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. They will ask you some questions about the circumstances of your accident and the injuries you suffered to determine whether:
- Another person or entity owed you a duty of care
- They breached their duty by acting negligently
- Their negligence led to a warehouse accident
- You suffered an injury or injuries as a result within the last three years
If your solicitor believes you have a valid warehouse accident claim with a fair chance of success, they will offer you a no win no fee agreement. This service allows you to take legal action regardless of your financial situation and without taking any financial risks due to its unique advantages:
- You do not have to pay any upfront solicitor fees;
- If your case fails, you do not have to pay your solicitor anything;
- At the beginning of your claim, they will take an After the Event insurance policy on your behalf, which provides coverage for all the legal expenses and disbursements if your warehouse injury claim fails;
- You only have to pay a success fee to your solicitor if they secure compensation for your injuries.
What are the most common warehouse accidents?
Warehouses are busy workplaces essential for many businesses, including supermarkets, online retail and construction companies. Many things could cause injuries to warehouse workers, but the most common reasons leading to a warehouse accident claim include the following:
- Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of injury at work, despite being preventable. The most common hazards leading to a slip or trip include uneven flooring, pavement defects, wet or slippery surfaces and objects left in walkways.
- Falls from height
Falls from height are the leading cause of fatal accidents in many industries, including warehouse operatives. In warehouses, work at height is often necessary to stack or remove goods from high places and should only be carried out by properly trained workers.
- Being struck by an object
Being struck by a falling or moving object is another common warehouse accident. According to the Health and Safety Executive, it is the third most common cause of fatal injury to workers, accounting for 14% of all accidents. These could be due to failure to properly shelve items, poorly constructed shelves or forklift trucks that are not adequately loaded.
- Forklift truck accidents
Forklifts are industrial trucks used to move heavy loads over short distances and are essential in warehouses. However, they are also the most dangerous form of workplace transport in the UK and should only be operated by trained individuals. The most common causes of forklift accidents include improper loading, unsafe environments and driving in unregulated areas.
- Manual handling
Manual handling in warehouses may involve pushing, pulling, lifting and lowering heavy items. Inadequate technique, lack of proper lifting equipment, loads that are too heavy or difficult to grasp and many other hazards can cause minor to severe injuries to workers.
- Electric shocks
Defective electrical products or machinery, overloaded sockets, short circuits or coming into contact with live components can cause electric shock injuries and fatalities to warehouse workers. If your employer has failed to take all reasonable measures to keep you safe, you could claim warehouse accident compensation for any injuries you sustain.
- Machinery accidents
Many machinery accidents can cause severe injuries to workers. Employers must keep equipment well-maintained and repaired and provide training and instructions for jobs that use heavy or dangerous machinery. When necessary, they should also provide adequate and free-of-charge personal protective equipment to employees.
- Ladder accidents
Ladders are often used in warehouses to stack or retrieve items from higher shelving. Although working on a ladder might seem straightforward, ladder accidents are a common cause of warehouse injury claims. Common causes of falls from ladders include lack of training, unstable surfaces and ladders that are broken or too short for the job.
The type of accident you suffered does not impact your eligibility to make a warehouse injury claim. Providing your employer or somebody else was at fault, you should be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.
What types of warehouse injuries can I claim compensation for?
Warehouse accidents can result in many different types of injuries that can be minor, life-changing, or in some cases, fatal. While most of them are due to acute trauma, some develop gradually due to overuse and repetitive movements. The most common injuries leading to a warehouse accident claim include the following:
- Cuts, bruises and lacerations
Such injuries can be due to a trip or slip, coming into contact with sharp objects, falls from height or being struck by an object. Minor bruising is usually not dangerous, but severe bruises can lead to life-threatening hematomas.
Minor cuts and lacerations usually only need proper cleaning and bandaging to prevent infections. However, deep wounds can be dangerous and affect underlying tissues such as nerves and tendons, which could have long-term or permanent consequences. Lacerations that need stitching may cause permanent scarring.
- Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains are common injuries that affect the muscles, tendons or ligaments. Sprains happen when you tear or twist a ligament and are common in wrists, ankles, thumbs and knees. Treatment may vary from rest and wearing a brace to surgery for torn ligaments.
Strains are the result of an overstretched or torn muscle or tendon and are most common in knees, feet, legs and back. Treatment is similar to strains and may involve surgery in the case of a complete tear. Both sprains and strains can be very painful and require physical therapy to recover.
- Broken bones
Fractures are common injuries caused by slips, falls from a height, forklift and other machinery accidents or being struck by an object. They may affect any bone in the body and could also include stress fractures, which are tiny cracks in a bone that are due to overuse and repetitive force.
While some bone fractures heal with only a splint or cast, some may require surgery. Your doctor may use rods, plates and screws or pins and wires to realign and secure the bones to their correct position. Mild fractures take several weeks to heal, while more severe ones can take over a year.
- Crush injuries
Crush injuries occur when the body or a body part becomes trapped or jammed between two objects or a piece of machinery. The most commonly injured body parts are the hands and fingers, which can sometimes result in severe damage and traumatic amputations.
Severe crush injuries can cause muscle, nerve and bone damage that could be fatal even with prompt medical intervention. If your employer failed to take reasonable measures to protect your health and safety, you might be able to file a warehouse accident claim against them.
- Head and brain injuries
Head injuries in warehouses can be due to falling objects, trips and falls or machinery accidents. These may range from minor bumps and bruises to lacerations, concussions and skull fractures. Severe trauma to the head can cause brain haematomas, haemorrhages and open-head injuries.
Brain trauma can have catastrophic long-term or permanent consequences. These include epilepsy, mood changes, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis and a vegetative state. If the victim cannot claim due to a severe brain injury, a litigation friend could take legal action on their behalf.
- Back and spine injuries
Back injuries are some of the most common warehouse injuries and can be due to physical impact or manual handling of heavy loads. The most common back injuries at work include sprains and strains and herniated disks.
Severe trauma to the back may damage the spinal cord, which can permanently affect your mobility and control of bodily functions such as the bladder or bowel. If your injury was due to your employer’s negligence, you might be able to make a warehouse accident claim against them.
- Repetitive strain injuries (RSI)
A repetitive strain injury describes any damage to the musculoskeletal or nervous system caused by repetitive movements, overuse, vibrations, or spending long periods in the same position. Repetitive strain injuries can cause significant pain and discomfort and interfere with daily activities.
Some of the most common RSI associated with warehouse work include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff syndrome and bursitis. Employers must provide proper training and instructions, manage the risks associated with manual handling and give sufficient breaks to workers to prevent strain injuries.
- Leg injuries
The most common leg injuries in warehouse accidents are foot and toe injuries from dropping heavy loads. Others include soft tissue injuries, fractures and dislocations caused by acute trauma or overuse. Severe falls or machinery accidents can lead to leg paralysis and amputations.
- Arm injuries
The upper limbs are the most commonly injured body part in workplace-related accidents. In warehouses, lifting heavy loads usually causes shoulder injuries like rotator cuff tears and dislocations, but also elbow, hand and finger bursitis and tendinitis.
Regardless of what injuries you suffered, if you feel that someone else caused it by acting negligently, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced solicitor will investigate your circumstances and let you know whether you are eligible for warehouse accident compensation.
What steps should an employer take to prevent accidents in warehouses?
Under UK law, employers have a duty of care towards warehouse workers. They are required to carry out regular risk assessments and have health and safety procedures in place to keep you safe. There are many pieces of legislation that cover the responsibilities of employers, such as:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
- The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Work at Height Regulations 2005
- The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
- The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
While the specific precautionary measures may differ from one warehouse to another and according to each specific industry, all employers are generally required to do the following:
- Take all reasonable measures to ensure the health and safety of employees;
- Identify potential hazards and eliminate or reduce dangers to the lowest level reasonably practicable;
- Ensure there is proper supervision in the warehouse;
- Implement appropriate health and safety procedures;
- Provide adequate training for carrying out potentially dangerous tasks;
- Ensure all items are properly stacked on racks and shelves;
- Where possible, reduce the need for and risks of manual handling;
- Provide all workers with appropriate and free-of-charge personal protective equipment such as hard hats, gloves and safety goggles;
- Keep good housekeeping and a safe working environment to prevent slips, trips, and falls;
- Ensure all equipment and machinery is in good working order and safe for use;
- Consider the age, experience, strength and capacity of each worker;
- Change the workspace to reduce bending, twisting and carrying distances;
- Ensure procedures are in place for emergencies and imminent danger.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury at work due to a breach of these duties, you might be able to make a warehouse accident claim. A free consultation with a legal adviser is the easiest way to find out whether you are entitled to compensation for your pain, suffering and financial losses.
How much compensation could I receive for a warehouse accident claim?
There is no fixed compensation you could receive in a warehouse accident claim. It depends on the circumstances of your accident, the injuries you suffered and how they affected your life, and it is calculated on a case-by-case basis.
Your solicitor will consider all the ways in which your accident affected you to ensure you are fully compensated. In every personal injury claim, the compensation settlement covers the following:
Special damages compensate for any financial losses incurred as a result of the accident, such as:
- Prescription charges
- Physical therapy
- The cost of travel to medical appointments
- Medical aids
- Cost of care and assistance during recovery
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle
General damages are awarded for the physical injury and its effects on your life, taking into account:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological trauma
- Physical and mental disability
- Reduced quality of life and life expectancy
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of prospects
- Inability to pursue a hobby or social event
In every warehouse accident claim, compensation for general damages is awarded according to the guidelines published by the Judicial College. According to them, you could receive the following:
- Up to £6,000 for minor shoulder injuries that heal in a matter of several weeks to several months
- £13,360 to £27,320 for a moderately severe elbow injury resulting in restricted movement
- £24,740 to £171,920 for severe hand injuries that might lead to amputations
- £7,780 to £12,010 for minor leg injuries with full recovery within a few months
- £12,900 to £65,710 for foot fractures resulting in permanent disability and restricted mobility
- £20,880 to £34,660 for moderately severe knee injuries resulting in ongoing pain or moderate disability
- £1,960 to £6,300 for moderate back injuries with complete recovery within two years
- £30,910 to £55,590 for spine fractures resulting in chronic pain and reduced mobility
- £12,210 to £37,760 for a fractured skull and a related concussion
- £56,180 to £94,470 for severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that might permanently affect your life
- £264,650 to £379,100 for very severe brain injuries causing loss of language function and the need for full-time care and assistance
Can I still make a warehouse injury claim if I was partly at fault?
You could still make a warehouse accident claim even if you were partly at fault for your injuries. Being partially responsible for an accident does not waive your right to claim. However, it will likely result in a reduced compensation award to reflect your part of the blame, known as contributory negligence.
Usually, you are still entitled to damages as long as you have less than 51% responsibility for the accident causing your injuries. For example:
- If the court establishes you hold more than 50% of the blame, your claim will be denied;
- If the court decides you hold 25% of the blame, you will get 75% of the full compensation award you would have been entitled to if your employer was entirely at fault.
Contributory negligence may still apply if your employer was clearly at fault for your accident, but you did something that worsened your injuries. For example, if you had a forklift accident due to a machinery defect but did not seek immediate medical care and that led to prolonged recovery.
Your age and experience may also play a decisive role when determining liability, as less would be expected from new and inexperienced employees than from highly qualified ones. In any case, you should never accept split liability without first seeking legal advice.
Ultimately, it is the evidence produced by both parties that will have the final say in a warehouse injury claim. Some steps you could take after a warehouse accident that could help support your case include:
- Take photographic or video evidence of the scene, showing what caused the accident before anything is moved or repaired;
- Take pictures of any visible injuries and damage to your items. You should also keep a photographic record of your recovery process;
- Gather witness information of anyone who saw your accident happen and might later provide a statement to support your claim for warehouse accident compensation;
- Report the accident to your employer and make sure you ask for a signed copy of the report, which will serve as proof of the date, time and location of your accident;
- Seek proper medical treatment by visiting your GP or attending A&E or minor injuries unit. Your medical records will serve as evidence of the type and extent of your injuries, treatments you received and recovery prospects;
- Many warehouses have CCTV cameras in place to protect the staff and stock. If your accident was captured on camera, you are legally entitled to a copy of the footage;
- Take notes of how the accident happened and how it affected your daily and social life;
- Keep track of all the financial losses and expenses incurred due to your warehouse accident, such as receipts, invoices and pay slips.
Based on the available evidence, your solicitor will be able to determine who was at fault for your injuries and how much warehouse accident compensation you might be entitled to receive.
Is there a time limit to claim warehouse accident compensation?
As a general rule, the time limit to bring a warehouse injury claim is three years after an accident, known as the claim limitation date. After this point, your case becomes statute-barred, which means the court will no longer accept it. In exceptional circumstances, a judge may overrule the three-year time limit to claim based on the reason and extent of the delay in starting legal proceedings.
When an injury develops over time due to overuse, the time limit to bring a warehouse accident claim is three years after the date of knowledge. This refers to the date you became aware of your injuries or when the injury or illness was diagnosed.
There are several exceptions to the three-year time limit to claim warehouse accident compensation:
- If a child suffered an injury while they were on work experience or working part-time, an adult acting as their litigation friend could claim on their behalf at any time. After turning 18, the victim will have another three years to start legal proceedings themselves.
- A litigation friend could claim compensation for someone who lacks the mental capacity to handle their case, either due to a warehouse accident or a pre-existing condition. In this case, no time limits apply.
- If you are claiming on behalf of a loved one who died, you will have three years to file a warehouse accident claim from the date they passed away.
- If you had an accident while working abroad, the time limit to claim warehouse accident compensation can vary significantly from country to country and could be much shorter than three years.
You should begin your claim as early as possible, regardless of your circumstances. This will make it much easier to recall precisely what happened and gather evidence to support your case.
To start your warehouse injury claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation. Alternatively, you can request a call back by entering your details into our online claim form.