Q: Last year I got a job working as a painter. During my first week I was told to attend a property to paint the exterior windows and soffit boards. Whilst I was setting up the ladders to access them, I fell from a height and suffered life changing injuries. After my accident, the Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation into what happened. My employer pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety laws and has been fined. I am paralysed from the waist down and I will never be able to return to work. I left school with no qualifications, and I have only ever done manual labour, so my options are very limited. I am only 35 years old, have 2 children to support and I am getting into serious debt. What can I do?
A: You should consider making a claim against your employer. Your employer has a duty to make sure that any work at height is properly planned, risk assessed, supervised and carried out by a competent person. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height.
Your accident might have been prevented if you had been provided with appropriate equipment, such as fully compliant scaffolding. Your employer should have completed a risk assessment, identifying that the type of work you were doing was not of short duration and so the use of ladders was not appropriate.
The HSE findings will help to support your position that your employer was negligent.
As you have suffered serious and life changing injuries, your life-long needs will need to be carefully considered, which takes time. Nonetheless, you should seek legal advice as soon as you can and seek an interim payment which will help to relieve some of your immediate financial pressure.
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