What To Do If You Have An Accident At Work
News article published on: 17th September 2019
The Law is clear. Employers have a duty of care to their employees, no matter how small their business. The workplace must be safe and risks to health should be prevented. Measures required include ensuring that any machinery is safe to use, necessary safety equipment is provided, and potential hazards are eliminated or at least mitigated as far as possible, so that an accident at work is less likely to happen.
The primary UK law governing work health and safety is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The Health and Safety Executive also publishes other regulations that are less general and more industry specific. Guidelines for keeping the workplace safe are readily available through the Health and Safety Executive website, should you wish to check them out for yourself.
However, despite the law, no system is perfect, which means that an accident at work is still likely to occur. Injuries arise from a wide range of causes, including slips and trips, being struck by a moving object or falling from a height, to name but a few. So, if you have suffered an injury at work what should you do? Here are a few suggestions to help you.
Seek appropriate help
Getting treatment should be your priority. Your injury may be sufficiently dealt with by a work first-aider or you may require attention from medical specialists in hospital. Make sure that you tell anyone attending you, the circumstances of your accident so that they are accurately recorded in the notes. These notes may be required later, so it is in your interest to be as clear and detailed as possible.
Whenever you are able, make notes of what happened. Document the name of any witnesses who can support your recollection of events. You may consider obtaining relevant photographs, serial numbers of faulty equipment and making sketches of what happened.
Report the accident at work
To formalise your accident, it is necessary to log details inside the work accident book, a document that your employer is required to keep by law. If no logbook is available, report your accident to your line manager. It is best to do this in writing and with as much detail as possible. If the work accident report has been completed on your behalf by someone else, make sure the details are correct before you sign it.
Sick time and sick pay
You may require time off from work to recover from your accident. Depending on your employer, you may also be entitled to receive work sick pay. During your sick time, document any treatment you received and consider keeping a diary of how your accident has affected you day to day. Make sure to keep receipts for out of pocket expenses such as physiotherapy sessions. You should also consider additional expenses that you have incurred, such as taking taxis if you cannot drive.
You may also receive Statutory Sick Pay if you are off because of your accident. If your injury is more serious, you may be entitled to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
Report to the Health and Safety Executive
Your employer must report any serious accident to the Health and Safety Executive. However, if you are in doubt that your employer has done so, consider contacting them yourself.
Returning to work after a workplace accident
If you can return to work after your accident, you may be able to request fewer hours or a change to your work duties until you are fully recovered. If the accident has resulted in a longer-term injury, then your employer may be legally required to make changes to help you return to work.
Making a claim for compensation after an accident at work
If your employer was negligent of their duty of care to you, and this breach of care resulted in your accident, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries. If you think you are eligible to make a claim, you need to be aware that the clock is ticking. You have only three years from the date of the accident in which to start legal action. This means that you need to act fast and obtain specialist legal advice as soon as possible.
The money you can claim depends on the type of injury you suffered and how long it takes for you to recover. A successful claim will cover costs of rehabilitation and other interventions necessary to help you manage. Any financial loss will also be covered, including loss of earnings and travel expenses.
Remember: you are not claiming against your employer
Employers are legally required to carry liability insurance, which will be used for the payment of compensation, if an employee is injured at work. This means that when you claim compensation for your accident, you are not claiming against your employer, but against your employer’s insurance company. Details of your employer’s liability insurance will be contained within a certificate which must be given to you at your request, if it is not readily accessible.