Accidents at work in the UK have been significantly reduced by health and safety regulations but every year over 140 people are killed whilst working and a further 18,000 people suffer from major injuries from and another 56,000 who have to take at least 7 days off work as a result of an accident*.
Whilst great progress has been made, just one death or one serious injury from a work related accident is one to many.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identify through their statistical analysis that there are work environments that pose a higher risk than others. These could be workplaces such as construction sites, waste management sites or working with trees and forests. There can be quite simple links to be made that these working environments are more risky due to the use of power tools, working at height and working with machinery and large vehicles.
What can you do to try to keep yourself safe in a high risk workplace and what should you do if you have been injured in an accident at work?
Firstly, understanding the health and safety responsibilities of your employer can help you to understand what they should do to protect you at work. Employers have to complete comprehensive risk assessments and identify where the hazards are. For construction companies which have different building sites, risk assessments must be carried out on each site as each one is potentially different, although many of the common hazards will be present. It is important for your employer to also consider activities that don't happen routinely, such as cleaning or maintenance of equipment for example.
Once an employers has identified any hazards in a workplace, they must also consider who could be harmed by these hazards. Employers need to consider not only their workers, but also members of the public and other people who may need to enter the work environment such as engineers, building inspectors and delivery drivers.
Finally, employers should decide how risky certain activities are and decide how they will reduce that risk and record their findings in their risk assessment document.
In addition to their responsibilities to complete risk assessments, employers have multiple responsibilities under the Health and Safety Legislation and there are regulations that cover specific risks such as falls from height, manual handling, removal of asbestos, slips and trips and exposure to excessive noise. It is important that your employer puts effective training in place so you know what is expected of you. This could be formal training in a classroom environment, online training or on the job training.
Secondly, recognising your own role in your health and safety at work and that of others, and ensuring that you wear the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you are provided with at work and that you follow the correct procedures as shown to you by your employer.
Once you know what your responsibilities are and those of your employer, hopefully you can work in a safe working environment.
However, as the data from the HSE demonstrates, work accidents do happen so if you find yourself in a position where you have been injured at work, you need to know what you can do about it.
One of the most important things you should know is that your employer is not allowed to treat you any differently if you decide to make a work accident compensation claim. An employer cannot dismiss you, pass you over for promotion or make things difficult for you. If they do, you could claim for unfair dismissal from work.
Furthermore, employers are required to have Employers Liability insurance coverage to pay out compensation for workplace accidents and injuries. So when you make a work accident claim, in almost all cases, you would be claiming compensation from the Employers Liability insurance company and not from your employer.
If you have been involved in an accident at work, there is a clear procedure laid down by the HSE. There will be an accident book and your accident should be recorded in there. This should be used for all workplace accidents, minor and serious. If you are involved in a serious accident at work, the last thing on your mind will be recording the accident in the accident book, but this should be a matter of procedure within your work environment.
Following an accident at work you will be focused on your recovery but depending on the terms and conditions of your employment contract, you may not get sick pay, even though you have been injured at work. This could cause you and your family significant financial problems so making a work accident compensation claim is often the only way to recover your lost earnings, plus compensation for pain and suffering, medical and rehabilitation costs and out of pocket expenses.
At Co-op Legal Services our No Win No Fee agreements mean there is no financial risk to you, win or lose**. If we take on your claim our specialist Personal Injury Solicitors will manage your work accident claim, negotiating with your employer's insurance company, liaising with you to arrange rehabilitation and getting any pay you are entitled to as part of your personal injury claim.
Using a Personal Injury Solicitor is important so you can ensure that you get the best possible compensation settlement. The Law Society recognise that a person who deals directly with an insurance company may get a lower compensation settlement than those who use a Solicitor.
For free legal advice about a work accident claim call our Personal Injury Solicitors on 0330 606 9587 or contact us online and we will help you.
** Subject to entering into and complying with the terms of a No Win No Fee agreement and an After The Event insurance policy.