Even with safety measures, accidents can and do happen in the workplace. However, the risk increases if health and safety protocols are not effectively carried out and regularly updated. If employers are negligent and fail to provide their employees with a safe working environment by doing risk assessments and following safety procedures, they can be held responsible for any accidents and injuries that may result.
In the unfortunate event of getting injured at work as a result of an accident, one of the first questions you’ll be asking is “What are my rights?” The employees’ rights legislation is there to protect your interests.
Regardless of what type of job you have or the environment you work in, your employer has a legal obligation to keep you safe while you’re at work. Employers also have to keep their staff informed regarding any health and safety issues that might put them at risk and provide them with personal protective equipment and training.
If you get injured at work, you have the right to:
- Claim compensation
- Take time off work to recover from your injuries
- If needed, get lighter work task and/or reduced hours one you return
- Claim any lost income
Your employer is also legally obligated to report certain types of accidents.
Since most of us depend on the income we earn through our jobs, getting injured at work and having to take time off to recover can be very stressful. The financial loss can mean you’re no longer able to pay your rent, bills, and provide for your family.
You don’t deserve to have to deal with this sort of stress and anxiety after you’ve had a work-related injury and that’s why your interests are protected by law. The compensation you can claim will depend on the accident’s specific circumstances, the severity of your injuries, and their consequences. In this article, we will go through some of the things you should know about work injuries, your rights and compensation claims.
What are the most common workplace accidents and injuries?
First of all, let’s look at some of the most common causes of workplace accidents and injuries. These include:
- Hazardous work practices
- Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Poor quality PPE
- Failure to accurately assess risks
- Improperly enforced safety protocols
- Badly maintained equipment
- Lack of training for the proper use of equipment
- Preventable spillages
According to the detailed research conducted by the Health and Safety Executive, the most common workplace accidents and injuries are:
- Slips, trips and falls on the same level (29%) which can result in bruises, strains, sprains and fractures.
- Handling, lifting or carrying (19%) which can result in back injuries, muscular strains, hand injuries, foot injuries and musculoskeletal disorders.
- Getting struck by a moving object (11%) which tends to happen more frequently in construction work or warehouses.
- Acts of violence (9%) which can result in bruising, scratches, cuts and other injuries
- Falls from height (8%) such as from a ladder or scaffolding which can result in fractures, back injuries, shoulder or neck injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
Other risks include:
- Toxic fumes leading to damage to the respiratory system and illness
- Exposure to loud noises leading to hearing loss
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI) which refers to the gradual damage to muscles tendons and nerves from repetitive movements such as working on an assembly line or handling pneumatic equipment.
What should I do after a workplace accident?
Following a work-related accident, there are some things you need to do. First and foremost, you need medical attention. Every workplace is legally obligated to have a first aid kit. The designated first aider must receive first-aid training to know what to do in this type of situation. They will be the first person to assist you in case of an accident.
When it’s safe to do so, you should have your injuries checked by a medical professional either in the emergency section of a hospital or by visiting your GP. Keep in mind that even injuries that may appear minor at first can lead to complications if left untreated. You should have a doctor examine you and follow their instruction.
This is especially important if you want to file a compensation claim later on since it shows that you did everything you were supposed to in order to recover from your injuries and the medical documents will serve as evidence. To find out more about how to file a compensation claim and how they’re calculated, you can visit Compensation Calculator UK.
As soon as you can, you should report the accident. If you need to be hospitalized, you can have a colleague or a manager report the accident. By law, any company with more than ten employees must record accidents in an accident book. Even smaller companies might have an accident book, so you should check. Employers are obligated to report certain accidents and injuries to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under RIDDOR, which stands for Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
If your company does not have an accident book, simply write down the circumstances of your accident and give it to the person you are supposed to report to but make sure you keep a copy for yourself. This will help if you want to file a compensation claim, and it also serves as proof that you carried out your duty to report your accident appropriately.
At this stage, it’s best to avoid any discussions regarding who is to blame for the accident. Fault needs to be established by someone with legal expertise in these matters.
If you are a member of a trade union, you should also report that you got injured at work to your representative since they are there to help you. It’s helpful to get witness statements from work colleagues that were at the scene.
In case you need time off to recover from your injuries, know that you are entitled to statutory sick pay. More serious injuries with long-term effects make you eligible for industrial injuries disablement benefit. You can reach out to your employer and discuss your employment right following and injury.
As we mentioned earlier, in the UK employers are held responsible for the safety of their employees and visitors while on the premises. It’s mandatory for them to have insurance and follow health and safety regulations. If your accident is a result of your employer’s failure to meet their legal responsibilities, you are entitled to claim compensation, and if your claim is successful, the payment you receive will be covered by their employer’s liability insurance.