The number of people claiming compensation for work-related injury and ill health has fallen by 50% in the past decade, according to a new report, prompting the TUC to accuse the government of trying to “brainwash” the public.
Researchers from the TUC and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) examining government figures found that successful claims for compensation have fallen from 183,342 in 2002/03 to 91,115 in 2012/13.
Given that around half a million people are made ill by their work each year, according to HSE figures, with a further 110,000 injured, the vast majority of workers injured or made ill at work – some 85% – receive no compensation.
The TUC and APIL say the report gives lie to the narrative that UK is rife with a compensation culture and is becoming risk averse as a result of claims.
The Compensation Myth also analysed 64,000 compensation claims from 2011, finding that the majority of workplace damages paid to injured workers was for less than £5,000, with around 75% of cases for damages of less than £10,000.
“Contrary to perceptions, not every injury results in compensation,” said Matthew Stockwell, president of APIL. “85% of people who have been injured or fallen ill simply by turning up for work don’t receive a penny in compensation. Either these injured people are choosing not to claim, or they can’t prove that their injury is due to someone else’s negligence.
“Unfortunately, employers tend to have the upper hand, as they control the workplace and have all the information on the equipment and systems in place. So there will be people who have a need and a right to claim but can’t, which is precisely the opposite of a so-called ‘have-a-go’ culture”.
The TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady added: “The government is forever trying to brainwash us into thinking the UK has a rampant compensation culture, but – as this new report shows – the facts tell a very different story. Even those dying from work-related diseases have precious little chance of getting a decent payout.
“The true government motivation here is to weaken health and safety legislation and make it even harder to for victims to pursue claims against their employers. Unfortunately the end result is likely to be a much higher rate of workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses in the future.”
To reduce the collective bill for compensation the report calls on the insurance industry to link insurance premiums with health and safety performance in a bid to drive up standards.
“Insurance companies should more readily offer risk-based premiums that reflect an employer’s health and safety history. Good health and safety should be rewarded,” the report states.
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