3 Things You Don't Know About Accidents In The Workplace

Updated on April 1, 2017
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Kate has over seven years experience as an Employment and Personal Injury legal executive. She runs LawCat, a legal explanations website.

If you have an accident at work, then your priority should be to recover from your injury. However, suffering an injury at work can raise various other concerns, including:-

  • Can you be punished or dismissed for being injured?
  • What rights do you have now that you are injured?
  • Will you still be paid now that you are injured?
  • How can you stop this type of accident happening again?
  • Should you be considering a claim against your employer?

First of all, you should not be at risk of losing your job just because you had an accident. But if your accident was caused by gross misconduct on your part, then there may be repercussions which could, potentially, include your dismissal.

If you have worked for your employer for long enough you should be entitled to full sick pay for a period and then statutory sick pay; you will need to check your employment contract regarding this.

If you are concerned about the accident repeating or happening to someone else, then you should raise your concerns with your employer. Try doing so informally in a verbal discussion in the first instance. But this can be followed up by a more formal written concern, or, if you feel your employer is not taking your concern seriously, you can raise a grievance with them to change the situation and prevent the accident from happening again.

If you are considering bringing a personal injury claim, you will need to be confident that your employer's negligence caused your accident. An accident alone is not enough of a reason to bring a claim; the accident must be caused by your employer, or another employee’s, negligence. Your employer should be insured to cover themselves against claims such as this and if you decide to bring a claim you, will be dealing with their insurance company.

If you do bring a claim you should keep in mind that the aim of legal proceedings is to put you in the same position you would have been in ‘but for’ your accident, the purpose is not to get free money or make you rich.

1. Your Employer Must Fill Out an Accident Report

Your Employer must fill out an accident report

If you suffer an injury at work, it should be recorded in your employer’s accident book.

The accident book should contain details your accident, including: -

  • when it happened,
  • the severity of your injury,
  • the mechanics of the accident itself,
  • What treatment you received.

If you have to take time off because of your accident this record will provide evidence that the accident did happen and that you were injured as a result. If you wish to consider bringing a claim against your employer for your injury, then the accident report will again provide evidence that you were injured in the manner in which you are claiming.

Keeping an accurate record of accidents in the work place is also extremely helpful for employers, as it allows them to view the types of injury that occur on their premises and see if there is anything that can be done to prevent these injuries from happening again. The fewer accidents there are in the workplace, the more productive that workplace becomes.

Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (known commonly as RIDDOR), your employer has a duty to report some work-related accidents to them. That being said, not all accidents need to be reported to RIDDOR, slips, trips and other minor injuries, for example, do not have to be reported but should still be recorded in the company accident book.

The types of accident that do have to be reported to RIDDOR include the following: -

  • major injuries
  • dangerous incidents
  • death
  • an injury that stops you from doing your usual work for more than three days
  • disease

However, sometimes, whether through honest error or deliberate falsehood, this is not done. While your top priority after your accident will be to recover and return to work, you should always make a point of confirming if your accident was reported to RIDDOR and if not, why not.

2. You Are Partly Responsible For Your Health and Safety

You are partly responsible for your health and safety.

While your employer does have a duty of care to you in the workplace, you also have a responsibility towards yourself, fellow workers and members of the public.

Your employer must carry out health and safety risk assessments in the workplace and provide first aid kits as a minimum. If they are not doing this, then they could be considered negligent by the Health and Safety Authority.

However, you do have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to care for yourself and your safety in the workplace. You should dress appropriately for your work place, meaning that you should wear all safety gear provided. If that is not necessary, then you should wear clothing appropriate for your job. You should also follow all the Health and Safety requirements laid down by your employers, these are in place to protect you, and you should follow them.

You should also take reasonable care to keep your fellow workers safe and if appropriate keep members of the public safe or warn them of any risks. For example, putting up wet floor signs if you have a leek or have just cleaned the floor.

If your employer offers you training on how to use certain equipment, ergonomics, or how to perform your duties in such a way to minimise the risk to your person and others, then you should partake of this training and follow the lessons taught.

If you become aware of something that may put yourself or others at risk, you should report it immediately.

If your health changes in such a way to make you more ‘at risk’ for example you become pregnant, start taking medication that can make you drowsy, or you suffer an injury elsewhere that limits your abilities, then you should inform your employer of this. Your employer cannot be expected to make reasonable changes to your work place to suit your needs if they are unaware of these requirements.

3. Workplace Accidents/Injuries Are Not Always Physical

Workplace Accidents/injuries are not always physical.

When most people think of injuries in the place of work they usually think of falling off ladders, tripping over something carelessly placed or perhaps injuring themselves when lifting items. However, you can also suffer psychological illnesses which can be caused by stress at work or bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Per the Labour Force, in a survey they carried out in 2011, work related stress made up over a third of all workplace injuries, with over 400,000 cases reported in the UK.

Workplace Stress is usually thought of as a natural part of the workplace; we live busy, hectic lives and our jobs contribute to a great deal of that. However, while a small amount of stress is normal, it is not acceptable for your workplace stress to be severe enough that it makes you ill. You should not feel like you are being overly sensitive, or being a victim if you notice that your health is deteriorating because of work place related stress.

It can be hard to recognise if you are suffering from workplace stress, but it should become apparent if it starts effecting your physical health. The below are some clear indicators that you are suffering from workplace stress

  • You are constantly irritable
  • You are constantly thinking/worrying about work
  • Your appetite has increased or decreased abnormally
  • Your blood pressure has become high enough that it is considered unhealthy

If you are concerned about workplace stress, your first point of call should always be to discuss the situation with your employer. You can do so informally in the first instance and then formally if you feel nothing has changed or your employer has not done enough to prevent you suffering an injury.

If you decide to bring a claim against your employer for a workplace stress injury then to be successful your injury must be server enough to be recognised by a professional, and you must prove your work caused it.

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    © 2017 Katie

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