Navigating Workplace Injury – Your step-by-step guide
Work related accidents can affect anyone and are not isolated to labour-intensive roles. It is your employer's responsibility to provide information and put measures in place to give you the best protections against injury and ill health at work. But in cases where negligence occurs, we want to ensure you fully understand your rights and have the power to protect your interests and health.
A workplace injury is classified as ‘An event at work that results in injury or ill health’. In 2021/22 it was reported that 565,000 people suffered from a non-fatal workplace injury. Of all workplace injuries, the most common are slips (29%), closely followed by handling, lifting and carrying (20%). Whilst 565,000 cases in 2021/22 marks a significant reduction from the pre-pandemic level of 693,000, accidents in the workplace remain an important consideration for both you and your employer, with potential life-changing consequences.
In this blog, we explore personal injury at work including; the precautions your employer needs to have in place, what you should do in the case of an injury and if you have had an accident, what protections, you, as the employee, has?
What precautions should an employer have in place?
The Health and Safety Act of 1974 places a duty of care on your employer, to ensure your health and well-being are protected as an employee, as far as reasonably possible whilst in the working environment.
The required protections vary in different workplaces and are relative to the type of work conducted. Some examples include:
- Whilst in the office, your employer must ensure there are no trip hazards, you are not at risk of repetitive strain injury using your keyboard and have been provided with adequate training in using equipment.
- If you are working outdoors using heavy machinery, your employer has an obligation to make sure you have the correct training, the correct safety equipment and clothing and to be warned of all potential dangers like tiredness and distractions.
Current health and safety law places an obligation on every employer to understand RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.).
This legislation places duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (The responsible person) to report all workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses).
What happens if you have injured yourself at work?
Most workplaces will have accident books to report injury, trained on-site first aiders, and policies relating to what should be done if an accident happens while you are at work. But what should you do if you believe your injury was due to your employer's negligence?
Perhaps you didn’t receive adequate training, your working environment just wasn’t safe, or you were put into a situation that became precarious; what should you do next?
If you are considering making a claim against your employer, it’s time to compile your evidence. To give you the best opportunity to prove your claim, we’ve listed a few examples of the evidence you need below:
- You should record details of the incident in your workplace accident book. Any workplace that has more than 10 employees are required to have an accident book by law.
- Collect the contact details of any witnesses who can provide a statement on your behalf.
- If your workplace has CCTV, request the footage.
- Take photographs of your injury and the accident scene, including any hazards that caused you harm.
- Gather medical evidence, such as a diagnosis from a medical professional or your hospital records.
Although it can be a challenging time, the more information you can collate at each stage of your accident and through your recovery the better. Collecting evidence retrospectively can prove to be difficult, so take stock of your surroundings/people, collect whatever evidence you can and try to keep details in date order to provide you with the best starting point for your claim.
What happens if you take legal action against your employer
The thought of suing your employer can cause distress. Will they fire me, will it sabotage any future prospects, will I need to leave? These are just some of the concerns you may have; and this worry, on top of suffering from an injury which has affected your life to varying degrees, is something you just don’t need.
The reassuring news is that it is not lawful for your employer to dismiss you or discipline you because of any injury claim. In addition to this, reputable businesses will have insurance policies in place to cover the costs of any personal injury claims made against them.
How long do I have to make a claim?
You don’t have to report the incident or injury straight after it has happened as sometimes, some injuries and their repercussions can take time to show. You have 3 years from the date of the accident to make a claim and there is also the opportunity to take action against a former employer as long as you are within the defined time limit.
What to do next?
If you have had an accident at work and need support in making a claim, it’s time to contact a personal injury specialist to help you take the next steps.