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Accidents at work: what should you do?

If you’ve had an accident at work, you may have sustained injuries that affect your day to day life and work, or have even stopped you from going to work. You may be left worrying what is going to happen in the future: was it your fault?, can you make a claim for compensation?, how are you going to cope financially whilst you are recovering?, and are you going to lose your job?.

Your employer has a duty to ensure that your health, safety and general welfare are protected whilst you are at work and there are certain laws, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which set out exactly what your employer must do to protect you. This Act imposes obligations on employers and the self-employed to ensure that their employees and others are not exposed to risks to their health or safety, as far as is reasonably practicable. It also obliges employers to comply with EU directives and authorises approved codes of practice in various trades.

Following the Wilsons & Clyde Coal Co. v English case in 1938, employers are also bound to exercise due care and skill in four particular areas. These are to have:

  • competent staff
  • adequate plant and equipment
  • a safe system of work
  • safe premises

If you have an accident at work, you can make a compensation claim for your injuries and any losses that result from those injuries, such as loss of earnings and medical treatment or physiotherapy.   Your employer will be liable for the accident, and therefore to pay you compensation, if it can be proved that the injury was reasonably foreseeable, or it happened as a direct consequence of a breach of your employer’s obligations. Your employer is also liable for the actions of all members of staff. Therefore, you can still pursue your employer for compensation if it can be established that an employee who is responsible for your accident or injury was acting in the course of their employment.

Many people who have accidents at work think that they cannot continue to work for their employer if they want to make a compensation claim. This is not true. Remember, your employer will have insurance against such accidents, and in most cases, it will be this insurer who makes the compensation payment. If you are still working for the employer where your accident occurred, you can make a claim and your employer cannot dismiss you, or prejudice you in any way. There are laws that protect you against this.

What should you do if you have been injured at work?

  1. Make sure the accident is reported in the accident book and make a note of the details and date of your accident.
  2. If you can, take photographs of the accident scene and your injuries.
  3. Take note of any witnesses to the accident.
  4. Make an appointment to see your GP or visit the hospital and make sure you give a full and detailed description of how you sustained the injuries.
  5. If you are unable to work due to your injuries, make sure that you send your employer sick notes on time and follow any procedures for reporting absences.
  6. Keep any correspondence you have with your employer about the accident.
  7. Keep any receipts for painkillers, travel or other expenses incurred because of your accident.
  8. Call Atherton Godfrey to discuss making a compensation claim for your work place accident or injury and any losses resulting from it.

You can find further information about health and safety in your workplace on the following web sites.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37

http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/index.htm

Author: Emily Woodhouse

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