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Work Accident Claims and Your Rights at Work

27th May 2016

If you have an accident at work because your employer did not keep you safe, you could make a claim for personal injury compensation. It is important to understand that you have the right to make a claim against your employer as long as you can prove that the accident was caused by your employer's negligence or lack of attention to health and safety.

Many people injured in work accidents worry that they will lose their job or be treated differently if they make a claim against their employer, but this is not allowed. It is against the law in England or Wales to sack an employee or treat them differently because they've made a claim for work accident compensation.

If your employer does treat you differently or you lose your job, you could claim for constructive or unfair dismissal along with the compensation you deserve for the injuries you suffered because of the work accident.

Employers in England and Wales are required by law to have Employers Liability insurance in place that will compensate employees for injuries they suffer as a result of an accident at work. As employers have to have the insurance in place by law and by providing a safe work environment, employers can benefit from happier and safer workers and lower insurance premiums.

Accidents at Work

An accident at work can have real implications for you. Depending on how serious your injuries are you could be back at work after a couple of weeks or you may never work again after a more serious accident.

Some workplaces are more high risk than others, but whether you work in an office or on a building site you could still have an accident a work.

Every employer has the responsibility to ensure that their staff have a safe environment to work in and have the tools they need to do their job safely. If your employer did not keep you safe or provide you with the correct tools to do your job, you may well have a claim against them.

Reporting an Accident at Work

If you have an accident at work, you should make sure that the accident is recorded in the accident book. All workplaces in England and Wales (except those where there are fewer than 10 employees) are required to have an accident book. Some workplace accidents are serious enough that they need to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the RIDDOR Regulations (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). Any workplace accident that causes a personal injury where you have more than 3 days off work is recordable, but not reportable.

The following types of work accidents are reportable under RIDDOR:

  • Fatal accidents at work
  • Specific injuries listed in the Regulations to employees. These are:
    • Fractures (not fingers and toes)
    • Limb loss (including arms, hands, fingers, thumbs, legs, feet or toes)
    • Permanent sight loss or a permanent reduction in sight
    • Crush injuries with damage to internal organs
    • Burns that cover more than 10% of the body or any burns that damage eyes or lungs
    • Separation of the skin from the head (scalping) that need treatment at hospital
    • Head injury that made you unconscious or being unconscious from a lack of oxygen
    • Any injuries caused by working in an enclosed space which results in hospitalisation for more than 24 hours, hypothermia, illness caused by overheating or needing resuscitation.
  • Any personal injuries where a worker is off work for more than seven consecutive days (not including the day of the accident)
  • Any personal injuries suffered by someone who is not a worker. This should only be reported if the person is taken to hospital because they are injured.

Your employer will need to complete the reporting process to the HSE, in line with their own health and safety policy and within the scope of RIDDOR.

To make a personal injury claim against your employer for a work accident, you have to show that because of your employer's actions, lack of action, lack of equipment, lack of maintenance or a lack of training, you were injured.

Industrial Illness at Work

This includes your employer giving regular breaks from tasks that can cause long term problems – this could be limiting the use of power tools to avoid conditions such as Hand/Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and rotating roles which involve repetitive movements, such as packing on a production line in a factory.

RIDDOR reporting applies to industrial illness at work too. When certain types of industrial disease or illness happen in a workplace, they have to be reported. They are:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Severe cramp of the hand or forearm
  • Occupational dermatitis or skin complaint caused by chemicals in the workplace
  • Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
  • Occupational asthma
  • Tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm
  • Any work related cancer such as Mesothelioma
  • Any work related disease associated with exposure to a biological agent

Whilst industrial illness is not technically an accident at work, your illness and symptoms are because of the work you do and your employer should protect you from being affected in this way. If you have an industrial illness or disease, you can make a compensation claim from your employer, even if your illness has taken many years to develop.

At Co-op Legal Services, our Personal Injury Lawyers know how important it is for you to have clear legal advice without the jargon. We offer free legal advice about work accidents and industrial illness so you can make informed decisions about making a work accident claim.

With a No Win No Fee agreement from Co-op Legal Services, all your legal fees are covered, win or lose. As part of the Co-op our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.

Call our Personal Injury Lawyers on 0330 606 9587 or contact us online and we will help you.

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