In the vast landscape of healthcare, particularly in care home settings, the legal responsibilities of employers play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of both residents and staff. In Scotland, the employer's liability in care homes is governed by a combination of statutory regulations, common law, and specific guidelines tailored to the healthcare sector. This article aims to provide an overview of the employer's liability in care home settings in Scotland.
The Legal Framework
The primary legal framework for employer's liability in care homes in Scotland is the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 . This legislation imposes a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare at work of all employees. In care home settings, this involves the identification and management of risks associated with the care of residents.
The most common care home claims are injuries from manual handling, lack of adequate training, exposure to hazardous substances and, more recently, Covid-19. There are two main regulations that care home employers must adhere to, to avoid these types of claims:
Care home employers must comply with the COSHH Regulations, which require the assessment and control of exposure to hazardous substances. This is particularly relevant in care settings where employees may encounter various chemicals and medications.
Considering the physical nature of care work, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 are critical. Employers must assess and minimize the risk of injury associated with manual handling activities, such as lifting and moving residents.
If employees are not trained properly in manual handling, accidents and injuries are likely to occur. Furthermore, while there may still be equipment to assist staff in manual handling tasks, in some care homes, there is only one shared piece of equipment available. In the event that the equipment is not available, care home employees may have to reposition their patients without the help of this equipment, again leading to injury. Employers in care home settings therefore owe a duty of care to their employees. This duty includes providing a safe environment, adequate training, proper supervision, and ensuring that staff members are competent and qualified for their roles.
Apart from statutory regulations, common law principles also shape the employer's liability in care home settings in Scotland. Negligence claims may arise if employers fail to meet the standard of care expected in the circumstances. This may involve issues such as inadequate staffing levels, lack of proper training, or failure to address known risks.
Specific Guidelines for Care Homes
Whilst complying with the general health and safety regulations, care homes in Scotland must adhere to specific guidelines set by regulatory bodies such as the Care Inspectorate. These guidelines cover various aspects of care which include the following:
- Staffing levels.
- Training requirements.
- The promotion of a culture that prioritizes the dignity and well-being of residents.
Overall, ensuring the safety and well-being of residents and staff in care home settings is a complex and multifaceted responsibility. It is therefore crucial that employers in Scotland navigate a comprehensive legal framework, including health and safety legislation, common law principles, and specific guidelines for the healthcare sector. By understanding and proactively addressing their legal obligations, care home employers can contribute to creating a safe and supportive environment for residents and staff alike.
Making a claim
If you have had an accident at work, then you should report it to your employer and ensure the incident noted in the accident book. Make sure you have the contact details of any witnesses to the accident, and take pictures of what caused your accident. It is always best to seek medical attention in the first instance following your accident.
Victims of personal injury have three years from the date of the accident bring a case to court and serve it upon the Defender e.g. the employer. Should you wish to make a personal injury claim, we would recommend contacting a solicitor as soon as possible.