In the case of members of the military, their employer is almost certainly likely to be the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the MoD is like every other employer in that it has a duty in law to be responsible for the health and safety of everybody it employs. Like every other employer its degree of diligence and expertise in carrying out this responsibility ultimately determines how safe its employees will be.
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Military accidents – where are the most common?
The vast majority of accidents in the military occur outside of combat situations and in relatively low numbers proportional to the number of people in the armed forces. This is a good indicator of how competent the MoD is at identifying and managing risk across a range of environments and work situations more diverse and inherently hazardous than almost any other in the world of work.
Bearing in mind that many members of the Armed Forces are required to handle and use firearms and munitions, work alongside and use heavy plant and large vehicles, parachute, use fast-roping techniques, fly, swim, swing and jump considerable heights and distances, train with any number of hazardous substances and are also encouraged to engage in challenging sports and are expected to undertake gruelling training, it is amazing that the preponderance of injuries they suffer result from exactly the same kinds of accidents as occur in every other kind of work environment.
Given the very hazardous world they live in, it is ironic that most common accidents in the military involve slips and trips, falls and manual and other handling.
The MoD – their obligations to keep you safe from injury
As mentioned above, military personnel have the same health and safety rights and entitlement to protection from injury whilst at work as anyone else.
Fortunately the MoD is mostly very successful in addressing all the issues associated with establishing and maintaining safe working environments and ensuring as far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare of its employees.
The steps they take are universally applicable and include:
• Active risk management within a comprehensive and over-arching health and safety strategy.
• The comprehensive training of personnel, including in health and safety and hazard and positional awareness.
• The provision of fit for purpose personal protective equipment and training in how and when to use it.
• The provision of the correct equipment/machinery/tools, all of which are adequately maintained.
• The establishment and maintenance of clean, tidy and safe workplaces.
• The provision of manual handling and other moving and lifting training, reinforced as necessary.
• Training on the nature of and risks associated with hazardous substances.
In the dynamic and demanding world of the military attention to health and safety can never be less than 100% and where isolated failings do occur compensation for the innocent victims of military accidents can be available from several sources.
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How to avoid military related illness and disease
However, illness and disease represent a far heavier drain on military resources than do combat related injuries. It is not therefore surprising to know that the military invest a lot of time and money in attempting to keep instances of disease and illness to an absolute minimum.
It is of course also their duty under health and safety law to ensure as far as reasonably practicably the health, safety and welfare of their employees. Thus if a serviceman/woman becomes ill with a preventable disease in the course of their work due to their employer failing to vaccinate them and it can be clearly demonstrated that vaccination was part of the employer’s duty of care and the illness was a foreseeable consequence of not vaccinating, the serviceman/woman might be able to make a claim for personal injury compensation.
For the two reasons explained above the military obviously don’t want personnel contracting diseases and take every possible care to prevent this from happening. The methods they most commonly employ to maintain the wellbeing of military personnel are listed below:
• Vaccination – successful only if the correct vaccine can be given to the right service personnel at the right time, which necessitates medical staff being aware of who is being posted where (many diseases are location specific) and when and being given that information is good time so the necessary anti-bodies have time to build up before deployment.
• Preventative drug therapy – drugs that prevent diseases rather than fighting them once contracted. Some drugs of this type can have side effects.
• Education – ensuring that personnel are aware of the health risk they will be encountering and how to counter or control them. This might extend all the way from a simple instruction ‘not to drink the water’ through to training in special hygiene or food preparation techniques. Such education will also be more generic, covering general health issue including sexual health.
• Routine medical check-ups & screenings for all personnel – these will ensure that health problems don’t go undetected and that the risk of contagions can be eradicated or controlled.
• Psychological health support – the military can be a stressful existence, especially if it involves combat operations and depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, stress disorders and post-traumatic stress syndrome are not uncommon. Systems exist to support those affected, both embedded in the units the sufferers belong to and delivered in the form talking and drug therapies by specialised medical personnel.
• Biological warfare counter-measures – the military invest heavily to ensure that they would be able to contain the spread of bacterial or viral agents released by biological weapons.
• Provision of personal protective equipment/specialised clothing – this equipment is designed to protect personnel from anything from nerve gases and asbestos dust to environmental extremes of heat or cold.
Click here to read more about making an Injury Compensation Claim
Contact our Military Injury Claim Solicitors today
Strictly enforced time limits apply to all injury claims – whether incurred in the UK military are not. So make sure that you do not delay making your accident compensation claim. We specialise in military law – and have acted for hundreds of service personnel – at home and abroad.
So for FREE phone advice and a free first appointment from our specialist Military Injury Claim team;
- Calling FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or on (01722) 422300
- E-mailing us using the online enquiry form below: