Having been involved and injured in an accident at work, you may find it hard to think about seeking compensation from an employer and you would not be alone. Many employees who either develop a work-related health issue or who are injured in the workplace are torn between seeking compensation for their pain and suffering and their loyalty to an employer. However, all employers have a duty to keep you safe from harm and injury while you are at work and must set in place all reasonable measures to do so but accidents at work do still happen.
If you suffered any sort of injury at work that led to having time off, you may find that you are put under a lot of stress and financial pressure through no fault of your own. As such, you should never feel awkward when it comes to seeking compensation and to discuss things with an employer who is legally required to have valid liability insurance in place for such eventualities.
Reporting and Recording an Accident at Work With Your Employer
It is essential to report all accidents and near misses to the person in charge of a workplace whether this is an employer or manager. If your injuries are such that you cannot report an incident yourself, a work colleague should do this on your behalf ensuring that all the details of the incident and your injuries are recorded correctly. You have every right to see the record to make sure this is so when you can.
Naturally, the first thing you should if you are injured in the workplace, is to seek first-aid from the designated person and to then seek medical attention from a qualified doctor. You may need to be taken to the Accident and Emergency department of a local hospital by ambulance and your employer should ensure that a work colleague goes with you.
With this said, once you are able to, you should discuss the circumstances that led to you being injured in an accident at work with your employer. This is essential because by doing so, you could avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings further down the line. An employer must listen to your concerns about safety in the workplace and why you believe you were injured while carrying out your normal daily tasks. Your employer should carry out an accident investigation which they may do while you are still recovering from your injuries.
Although it is perfectly acceptable for an employer to carry out an accident investigation as soon as possible, an unscrupulous boss may use the opportunity to cover up any reasons why the accident that left you injured occurred. If possible, you should ask a work colleague to keep note of any changes that an employer sets in place while you are off work and to take photos of these as an official record. This would be essential when establishing liability for your injuries once you file an accident at work claim against an employer you believe was negligent in their duty to keep you safe at work.
A responsible employer would always put the welfare and the safety of their employees first over anything else which includes productivity and targets. They would always be willing to listen to any concerns you may have about safety in the workplace. A good employer would be extremely concerned should you be injured during the course of carrying out your normal duties and would do their best to ensure that you are compensated correctly for the pain and suffering you had to cope with if you are injured through no fault of your own while at work.
The 5 Stages of an Accident at Work Investigation
As previously mentioned, an employer would want to carry out an accident at work investigation with the 5 stages being detailed below:
- Reporting the accident – whether this is only “internally” in an accident at work report book or with RIDDOR should the incident be “reportable” by law
- Collecting information and evidence – not only is gathering as much evidence and information of an accident at work as possible is essential, but your employer too should gather proof of why the incident occurred
- It is important for all the evidence and information to be correctly analysed to determine why an accident at work occurred
- It is also crucial for risks, hazards and dangers to be identified and to establish whether any measures in place were in fact, inadequate
- Once a risk assessment has been carried out, an employer must set in place measures to reduce the risk of an accident occurring in the workplace which must include things like reviewing risk assessments, employee training programmes and to discuss all concerns with staff
A responsible employer would keep you appraised of everything they discovered during an accident at work investigation, even if you are still recovering from the injuries you sustained and as such, still off work.
Is the Workplace Safe For Employees to Work In?
If you have any concerns about your safety having been injured at work, you should discuss any issues you have with your employer who must ensure that the following is in place:
- Buildings and work areas are kept in good repair
- The workplace is safe and equipment/machinery/tools work efficiently
- Dangerous defects and hazards are dealt with immediately and to protect all workers who may be at risk
- Set in place necessary precautions of items/goods falling onto employees/people visiting
- Cover or fence off all floor openings when not being used such as vehicle examination pits
- That employees have adequate space to work in and to access
- Safety glass to be used where necessary
- Floors, stairs and corridors are kept tidy and free of any sort of obstruction
- That good drainage is provided in areas where workers work with wet processes
- That windows can be opened and closed safely where installed to do so
- Skylights and windows must be constructed and designed for safe cleaning with anchor points fitted where necessary
- To use sand or salt to minimise the risk of accidents caused by snow or ice
When it comes to lighting, an employer must ensure the following in the workplace:
- That a work area is correctly lit using natural light wherever possible while avoiding too much glare
- Workstations should benefit from good lighting
- Emergency lighting to be in place to be used when needed
- Stairs, hallways and corridors to be well-lit
- Outside areas should be well-lit
Should you feel that a work area is unsafe, you should discuss your concerns with the person in charge or employer. If nothing is done to correct a situation, you have every right to speak to a trade union or Health and Safety representative without the fear of being treated detrimentally by an employer. If you believe you are in immediate danger, you have the right to refuse to go to work until the area is made safe for you to be in.
Your Employer Must Listen to Your Concerns About Safety in the Workplace
Employees who work in diverse environments face a variety of different dangers and hazards. If you work in an office, you are less likely to suffer a burn than if you work in a kitchen as a chef. However, there are accidents that can happen in all working environments which includes slips, trips and falls with around 4 in 10 accidents at work injuries being due to this type of incident. Should you believe that your work area is unsafe, an employer or person in charge must listen to your concerns and put in place measures to make things right.
If you sustain any sort of injury because your employer failed to keep you safe from harm, you must inform them of the accident and tell them about the extent of the injuries you sustained as soon as possible. Should you not be able to do so, a work colleague or other person must do this on your behalf and your employer must make a record of the incident ensuring that a report is sent to RIDDOR should this be necessary.
Make Sure You Keep to the Chain of Command When Reporting an Accident at Work
Following an accident at work in which you suffer any sort of injury, it is important to follow the procedure that is set in place by an employer. If you have any concerns about the safety in a workplace it is important that you respect the chain of command to avoid any issues with an employer or person in charge who may object to not having been informed. It is important that an employer be given an opportunity to make things right but if they do not, you have every right to discuss the problem with a Health and Safety or trade union representative.
If you informed an employer or person in charge about your concerns over safety in the workplace and nothing was done to put things right which resulted in you being injured, you should contact an accident at work lawyer who would provide essential information on how best to proceed should you wish to claim compensation from your employer. The solicitor would also ensure you receive the correct level of accident at work compensation to suit your injuries.
An Employer Must Not Put Pressure on You Following an Accident at Work
If you are worried about filing an accident at work claim against your employer for the injuries you sustained or the work-related medical condition you developed, it is important to know that an employer can not put any pressure on you not to do so. You have a legal right to claim compensation providing you can prove your workplace injuries were sustained through no fault of your own but through employer negligence, and that the incident occurred in the last 3 years.
Should your employer threaten you with redundancy or that you would lose your job if you file a compensation claim against them, they would be breaking the law. They must not put any pressure on you which could entitle you to take further action out against them by filing a detriment claim against them.
An Employer Cannot Treat You Detrimentally
Your employer cannot treat you unfairly should you choose to file an accident at work claim against them. You cannot be treated any less favourably than other work colleagues. Should you feel that you are being treated unfairly, the best thing to do is contact a solicitor who specialises in accident at work claims and employment law because you may find that your employer has breached your employment rights by treating you less favourably than your colleagues.
To find out more about detriment claims, it is best to seek legal advice from a solicitor who would offer essential advice on how best to proceed should you want to take further legal action out against your employer.
Seeking Legal Advice From a Solicitor Who Specialises in Accident at Work Claims
A solicitor with experience in employment law and accident at work claims would typically listen to the circumstances surrounding the incident that left you injured by offering an initial consultation which is free of charge. Once a decision is made that you have a strong case against a negligent employer, you would be asked to provide as much evidence relating to your case as you can.
The solicitor would agree to take on your claim once you sign a Conditional Fee Agreement which is the basis for representing you on a No Win No Fee basis. As such, you would not have to pay the solicitor any money upfront for them to start working on your case and they would contact your employer’s insurance providers on your behalf notifying them of your intent in filing an accident at work claim.
The percentage you agree to pay a solicitor on a successful accident at work claim is known as a “success fee”. Should your accident at work claim not be successful, you would not have to pay the success fee because of the Conditional Fee Agreement you signed. It is also worth noting that the percentage payable is deducted by a No Win No Fee solicitor from the amount you are awarded.