RR552 - Exploration of the affect of litigation culture on the attribution and reporting of slip and trip accidents

Health and Safety Executive statistics show no decrease in the number of reported slip and trip accidents. Is it because there are more accidents of this nature than in previous years or are there other factors that are impinging on the statistics?

Due to changes in the litigation law in recent years, lawyers have been offering a 'no win no fee' service, which appears (on the surface), to be generating a tendency amongst individuals to pursue claims of negligence, even in the most frivolous of cases. Along with this there have been media adverts encouraging people who have had an accident to seek compensation. Reports in the press also suggest that there are many companies willing to pay out small amounts of compensation rather than fight a more costly litigation process.

Society continues to change and there is less tolerance when it comes to risk. Incidents are reported in the media of outdoor school activities being cancelled because of fears of accidents (compensation claims). At the same time there is a groundswell against frivolous claims by the general public, which seems to indicate that, for the majority, there is such a concept as acceptable risk. But to what extent is this risk acceptance more or less tolerated than it was say 10 years ago?

The purpose of this work was to determine the effect of this heightened awareness, brought about by media activity, on the reporting of accidents, (if any).

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-21