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| Covid-19 Legal Advice - Personal Injury Law

Covid-19 & Your Employer’s Responsibility to Keep You Safe

Have you contracted COVID-19 in the course of your employment?

You may be able to make a claim

Employers have a legal duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of their employees. If that duty is breached, they can be found liable to compensate employees for injury and losses which they prove were caused, or materially contributed to, by that failure.

COVID-19 clearly creates an immediate risk of infection to employees and it is vital that correct PPE is given to employees when coming into contact with people at risk of contracting coronavirus in the course of their employment. Employers must take sensible steps to discharge their duty of care and to document their assessment and adopted policies. If someone becomes infected at work in the absence of evidence of such steps having been taken, the employer is vulnerable to being found in breach of duty and liable for losses arising.

The transmission of COVID-19 is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets generated by coughing and sneezing and through contact with contaminated surfaces. The predominant modes of transmission are assumed to be droplet and contact.

Regulation 1 of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992 states

“Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety ….”

Current PPE recommendations in terms of COVID-19 are as follows:

Category 1 (performing an Aerosol Generating Procedure –“AGP”) &  Category 2 (higher risk / acute care where AGP performed):

  • Sleeved, fluid resistant gowns or sleeved disposable plastic aprons
  • Filtering face mask (FFP2 or 3)
  • Full face visor
  • Disposable gloves

Category 3: direct in-patient care of confirmed or possible COVID-19 cases: –

  • Disposable gloves –single use
  • Disposable plastic apron (sleeveless) -single use
  • Fluid resistant surgical mask (Type IIR) –sessional use
  • Eye protection (visor or goggles) –sessional use [only since end March ’20]

Early identification of the infected, and those in close contact with them, is essential, and it is essential that employers provide employees with the correct PPE as recommended above to prevent the risk of employees contracting COVID-19.

If you believe you have contracted COVID-19 in the course of your employment due to not being provided with the correct PPE by your employer you may be able to make a claim. Damages would include awards for PSLA for the symptoms suffered, which could vary from the trivial to the fatal, plus compensation for a range of potential heads of past and future losses, in particular, loss of earnings, and any care claim.

It should also be noted that employers are vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees, therefore it may also be possible to make a claim if you have been infected as a consequence of the decision of an infected employee to continue interacting with others, contrary to government and employer advice to self-isolate in such circumstances.

Proving you contracted Covid-19 at your workplace

The wider issue is one of causation and how a claimant can prove that exposure to COVID-19 occurred within the workplace as opposed to the wider community. This is made more problematic for claimants as current evidence suggests that COVID-19 spreads rapidly but has a variable and sometimes lengthy incubation period; there remains uncertainty as to its precise mode of transmission; and it appears to still be the case that it is extremely difficult to pinpoint the source of the infection.

Although it would be difficult for an infected individual to prove that their condition was caused by a workplace breach, given the many other potential sources of infection, on the balance of probabilities, it may still be worth investigating.

How Hopkins Solicitors Can Help You

If you believe that you have contracted COVID-19 because of the negligence of your employer and/or if you are suffering additional hardship during lockdown as a result of injuries sustained in an accident or want guidance on coronavirus and personal injury compensation please contact Hopkins Solicitors on 01623 468468 or use the enquiry form below.

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