Solicitor, risk assessments and HSE

I read your e-mail of your solicitor’s letter with great surprise. I received an almost identical one recently. Furthermore, this is in complete contrast to a letter I received from a different solicitor at the same firm! While RSI has had financial implications for me, it still appears that I am very limited in getting practice changed at my place of work. I thought the AUT may be supportive in this but, as yet, have had very limited luck with them. A safety adviser, with no apparent ergonomic background (as recommended by two medical letters) assessed my workstation as satisfactory when it was obviously not satisfactory to me. Employers seem to ignore the fact that they have a responsibility to individuals and not just the average person. In fact the whole system seems to have been there not to help me but to silently pass me off as insignificant. This leads me on to different scenarios.

  1. Shut up and accept that I can do nothing else – in which case it would be nice to get some help with coming to terms with this (a legal letter is rather abrupt!)
  2. Pursue it through the union (at a local level I seem to be very limited)
  3. Officially complain to the HSE but have to be named as the complainant – what are the implications for a career?
  4. Seek further legal advice, with possibly, a significant financial implication.

Thanks to all those who have replied – it seems to have generated much interest! It’s a pity that the legal framework in place to protect employees can also, quite easily be used to protect employers who may be at fault. Yours rather distressed and confused at the moment. “I confirm the advice that I felt necessary to give you when we met recently, to the effect that I cannot recommend to you or to the Union that a claim for damages is made for personal injury and consequential loss or that court proceedings are commenced. As explained, essentially the reason is that I believe there is no reasonable prospect of being able to prove that your employers or that anyone else would be liable to pay significant damages to you. I appreciate that should a conclusion may come as a disappointment to you. However, I believe it is appropriate to take a realistic view of the prospects at an early stage, whenever this is practical. Although it may be possible to show that the employers fell below a reasonable standard, to the extent that this imposed a burden upon you at-work.

I believe it will be difficult for us to prove that the system of work which you undertook was not the cause of the symptoms which you developed. It is necessary for me to confirm that the position in relation to limitation in law. Generally, there is three years from the date of an injury in which anyone can commence court proceedings; otherwise the court will not usually allow the case to proceed. The three year period starts to run when an individual first appreciates that you have suffered an injury in circumstances like yours. Often the circumstances giving rise to an injury occur over a period of time so that the three year period will have expired for the consequence of some events, but perhaps not in relation to more recent events. I am sorry that I do not believe the law related to claims for damages like your injury is like to provide you with an effective remedy, but I would like to take this opportunity to wish you well for the future. If you have not done so already, you should make a claim for industrial injuries disablement benefit through your local DSS Office. UNISON is keen that details are given to Branch Secretaries. I would like to send details of your case to the Branch Secretary unless you object. Unless I hear from you within 7 days that you object to me passing these details on, I will be letting them know the result of your case.” Thanks for reading!

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