What is Duty of Care?

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By Crispin Bateman

on Thursday 14 March 2019

A nurse helping an elderly man

At Accident Line Direct we often mention the idea of duty of care, but what does duty of care mean, and who is responsible for it?

Duty of care law

In the UK, all workplaces have both a moral and legal obligation to make sure everyone associated with the establishment is protected from physical and emotional harm while on the premises or doing anything related to that establishment.

This covers many workplaces, from schools and voluntary organisations to private businesses, and it relates to anyone associated with that workplace – that includes employees (both paid and voluntary), contractors, students and the general public.

UK duty of care examples

In the UK, duty of care is wide-ranging. Examples that are within an organisation’s duty of care include:

  • Ensuring that the environment is safe from physical hazards, such as a blocked stairwell or ceiling in need of repair and in danger of falling debris.
  • Having immediate and clear response to incidents of bullying.
  • Making sure employees are trained for the correct use of machinery.
  • Providing safety equipment to anyone using hazardous materials.
  • Showing a clear and accessible line of communication from employee to employer for grievances.

The principles of duty of care

The idea behind duty of care is that any organisation has the responsibly to look after people who are working for them, working with them, or interacting with their organisation in any way.

Duty of care is a wide-ranging topic that can cover all the following:

  • Health and safety
  • Fire safety
  • Food safety
  • Personal physical safety
  • Equality
  • Bullying and violence
  • Harassment
  • Child and adult protection
  • Workplace stress
  • Discrimination

The word ‘negligence’ is often used in relation to duty of care examples, with terms like ‘medical negligence’ referring to a breach of duty of care in the NHS or nursing, ‘employer negligence’ meaning a breach of duty of care in the workplace, and ‘professional negligence’ showing a breach of duty in a company’s care for their clients.

Upholding the duty of care and how it benefits organisations

Holding yourself to a higher duty of care is not just about meeting the legal requirements of business ownership or professional practice, but shows a true level of respect for the people you work with.

Organisations that are known for their adherence to strict duty of care principles enjoy happier employees, a more positive working environment and a far greater reputation in the wider world.

It is not just about avoiding a potential claim for personal injury due to an accident at work or from industrial disease!

By making a clear policy statement on duty of care, maintaining regular training and adhering to the principles with vigilance and continued assessment and adjustment, businesses and organisations raise their own moral standard and ultimately provide a better environment for everyone associated with them.

Making a claim for a breach of duty of care with Accident Line Direct

Unfortunately, too many workplaces fail to adhere to the standard of a duty of care and accidents often happen.  Remember, it’s not just about your place of employment – there’s a duty of care in sport, a duty of care that police owe to the public and a duty of care that doctors owe patients.

Contact us at Accident Line Direct if you believe you have been let down by an establishment and we can help you with your claim for compensation. Call today or fill in our contact form to have someone get back to you at a convenient time.

0808 1454275

Accident Line Direct can help you begin your potential claim, get in touch today!