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Accidents at work- what you need to know

Workplace health and safety has become a hot topic over the last year or so for both employees and employers. Many a Zoom call will have taken place to discuss how to keep workers safe amidst the risks associated with Covid-19, with the emphasis very much on acquiring appropriate PPE and maintaining social distancing where possible.

However, while the pandemic has put a spotlight on the issue, in many industries – and especially those deemed to be a little more physically dangerous - the safety of staff has always been big issue, with ever evolving legislation in place to make sure protection is in place.

Sadly, despite this, the latest HSE (Health and Safety Executive) annual workplace fatal injuries statistics show that in 2020/21, 142 workers were killed in work accidents, with an overwhelming majority of fatal injuries (39) occurring in the construction industry.

Worryingly, the construction figures demonstrate an increase of 7 from the previous year's total of 13.

 

Here, Personal Injury specialist Sarah Sadler discusses what employers must to do keep their staff safe, as well as what an employee can do if they suffer an accident while at work.

 

What are my responsibilities as an employer?

Ensure adequate risk assessments are undertaken, and that staff members are suitably trained and equipped. You should review the government’s Health and safety guidelines that are in place and make sure you are following them. If these guidelines are broken, then you are breaching your responsibilities.

By putting a health and wellbeing strategy in place in your workplace you are demonstrating that you take your role seriously, and it will help to ensure that your staff feel supported, and that there is a positive employee-employer relationship.

 

What if an accident does happen?

As an employer you must ensure that all the details, no matter how small, are recorded within an incident book or an accident recording system.

Serious injuries or even death, require additional responsibilities. This is where the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013′ requirements will be mandatory. This may be referred to as RIDDOR.

If employers fail to comply with the requirements, it could become a criminal matter.

The worst-case scenario in this situation is if the case progresses to a case of individual and corporate manslaughter or corporate homicide. This act came into effect in 2008 in response to a number of large-scale disasters that occurred in the 1990s.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will decide whether there can or should be a prosecution, this would be if the workers death was caused by another person's conduct either by act or omission.

If an accident does occur and a claim is made against you, you will need to have the relevant liability insurance in place.  One of the things we see regularly is employers who have let their liability insurance lapse.

 

What if I get injured at work?

A key point to know is that everyone has the same rights if they get injured at work, no matter what industry you are in.

One of the most important things to remember is that you have the right to seek medical attention. If an employer tries to prevent you from seeking this, they are in breach of the law.

Ensure that your employer has a written notification that you are suffering from a work-related illness or injury, it is important to also make sure that it is you who states the details and that you do not sign any record that does not match your version of the events.

If you feel you are being treated unfairly because of your mental or physical health, this can be a complaint of discrimination under The Equality Act 2010.

 

Could I claim compensation?

It is estimated that around 2 million people suffer from ill health caused or exacerbated by accidents and injury at work. While most cases are relatively minor, in some cases the injuries can be life-changing, and even fatal.

If you are affected, you may be able to claim for compensation for any pain and discomfort, as well as any lost income as a result. It is important to note that your employer cannot sack you for pursuing this action.

Equally, if a loved one has been killed as a result of a workplace incident you may also be able to claim for compensation for lost wages.

While money will never make up for what happened, it can provide some peace of mind and financial security for those affected.  

 

If you have any questions on your position as an employee or an employer, please contact our Personal Injury team at Banner Jones Solicitors on 0344 947 7274.  

 

Sarah Sadler
  • Chartered Legal Executive

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