Who should pay when people suffer from a debilitating disease caused by the environment or tools they use at work? Of course the simple answer is; the employers who fail to protect people from certain types of work or certain tools that cause the ill health. Of course this never happens automatically. Very often it requires the intervention of no win no fee legal action, to get payment from employers to disabled employees.
Did you know that there are 70 work related, ‘prescribed diseases’, as they are called on the government’s list, that lead to payment of ‘Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit’. Yes the UK government will pay money to people disabled through their work. How much depends on the seriousness of the disability. But is this right? Considering our opening question and the fact that the government doesn’t have any money of its own. It all comes from other working people through their taxes. So why should they pay for the mistakes of employers? (unless of course the employer is a branch of government itself).
It would be nice to think that employers would recognise their shortcomings and compensate people when they suffer because of them. But the world of work is just not like that. Payments out of any business for compensation mean less profit for the employer. Training is seen only as a cost rather than an investment. Equipment maintenance is an outward cash flow rather than a long term saving. Personal protective equipment is a cost that can be avoided by cutting corners. Also the proper handling of substances that are hazardous to health, such as asbestos or fibreglass is an expensive nuisance to be worked around rather than managed properly.
In the modern world of work the only thing that makes unscrupulous employers accountable for their actions is the no win no fee route to dealing with industrial injury and disease. Oh the ‘Health and Safety Executive’ stand guard over the industrial landscape of the UK. They have all the powers on paper to stop unsafe practices and punish those businesses that put profit before workers. But their inspectors are spread impossibly thin.
Thus it is the duty of anyone who suffers an injury at work that isn’t their fault, or contracts an industrial disease from working practices that employers know better than to allow, to take their case to legal experts in industrial diseases. Only the fear of the courts can make the greedy cost conscious think twice. Only the chance of losing much more money than the prevention would cost will motivate some employers to do the right thing, the sensible thing and prevent the hazards of industry before they can kill and maim more lives.
If you have suffered or are currently suffering from an industrial disease, consult a ‘no win no fee’ lawyer. Get an objective advocate on your side. You cannot hope to bring your employer to account on your own. The issues are too complex, the legal guidelines to esoteric, the precedents too well covered for a layman to hope to understand them, let alone bring them to bear, on highly paid employer’s counsel.
The compensation bill for UK industry as a whole runs into hundreds of millions of pounds every year. And still employers are causing, asbestosis, asthma, cancer of all kinds, dermatitis, and all kinds of toxic poisonings. It’s dangerous to work in industry and yet safety is within the reach of every employer. They just need the motivation stick that only the courts can provide and the no win no fee legal practitioners can wield.