Every company that employs staff is responsible for their health and safety whilst they are working. Whether this in the workplace or out on site, your employer should take the necessary steps to ensure that you are working in a safe environment. Health and safety laws are there to be followed to avoid accidents or injuries. If an employer does not have proper procedures in place or otherwise fails in their duty of care, they can be prosecuted.
Whilst some accidents can not be foreseen or prevented, the majority tend to involve scenarios that could and should have been avoided. Accidents at work happen when corners are cut, adequate risk assessments are not made, when staff members are not suitably trained and equipped. This can sometimes be the fault of the employee but it can also be the fault of the employer. The government has a number of health and safety guidelines that must be followed and it is an employer’s legal obligation to ensure that these guidelines are implemented. If they haven’t been, then your employer is breaching their responsibilities.
If this is the case, an injured employee has the right to claim compensation. This would be paid by the employer’s liability insurance.
Responsibilities after an accident at work
Employers have responsibilities when one of their staff members is injured in an accident at work. Regardless of the accident specifics or severity of injury, all employers should have a pre-planned policy that is published, known of by key staff members and put in to place whenever the worst happens. It doesn’t matter if the accident seems innocuous – like a slip on a wet floor or if there is a very serious accident when staff members suffer critical injuries, the way a company handles accidents should always be the same.
Good employers will deal with accidents in a professional and effective manner. They will record details of an accident in their accident book, report it to the HSE if required, and not stand in their employees way should they need to make a claim for compensation. Bad employers will be less helpful, they may try to prevent access to the accident book and be obstructive towards staff who are injured, perhaps even threatening them with the sack.
Employers must ensure the details of any incident, no matter how minor, are recorded within an accident book or accident recording system. In cases of serious injury or even death, there are additional responsibilities on an employer where the ‘Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013′ requirements become mandatory. This process is known as RIDDOR and ALL employers must adhere to the requirements to avoid serious breaches of health and safety law. Indeed, it may be a criminal matter if company managers and senior staff to fail to comply with the requirements of RIDDOR. All accidents at work must be reported to RIDDOR where the injured employee is caused to be away from work, or left unable to work as normal, for seven consecutive days or more because of the injuries that they have sustained. The report must be made within 15 days of the accident to the Incident Contact Centre of the Health and Safety Executive.
Paying sick pay
It is important for employers to take an accident seriously, giving an employee all the support needed to get back on their feet. Employees may need to take time off to recuperate from their injuries so adequate relief measures should be discussed. Not all employees will receive full pay if on sick leave from work, however, all employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they do not get full sickness pay. If a successful compensation claim is made, the employee should be able to
Offering light duties
If the employee’s usual work involves aspects of hard physical labour such as heavy lifting, carrying, climbing or standing for long periods, the employer is duty bound to accommodate returning to work on lighter duties (if they exist) whilst recovering. For example, it could be that a back injury will prevent heavy lifting. Therefore, placing the employee in an office for a few weeks on lighter duties means they can return to work and continue to earn their usual salary. This change in duty can apply to psychological injuries, such as stress, as well as physical injuries – removing the situation causing the problem can often help.
What to do if you are injured at work
All employees have rights if they’re injured at work, even agency staff or temps. If you have suffered an injury because of employer negligence you will be entitled to claim compensation. To do this successfully you need to prove the employer is liable, and this takes evidence. Which is why, along with medical reports, a true report of the accident is so important.
If your employer is taking no responsibility for the injuries you sustained, they may not even let you see or use the accident book to make a report. If this is the case you should speak to a solicitor sooner rather than later.
Claiming compensation after an accident at work is not a great outcome for either the injured employee or the employer. Although a successful claim can see an employee recover their losses and receive compensation for their injuries, all claimants would rather that they had never had their accident in the first place. Most will have concerns about making a claim and whether it will affect their employer or job if they do. This fear can be played upon, and we understand that you may be placed under pressure by your employer NOT to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation. However, it is illegal to imply redundancy or the sack will follow if a claim is made, whether by threats or other pressure, and any employer doing so could face additional legal action on that as well.
Clearly, the decision as to whether or not to pursue a claim rests with the injured employee. If the injuries are minor, will cause no long-term problems, and the employee can still work and therefore not lose wages after an accident at work, they may well decide that they do not wish to pursue a claim for compensation. However, where the injuries are more serious and an inability to work follows, making a claim for compensation really is the only option, and a right, for most people.