What is classed as a workplace injury?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a workplace injury as ‘an event that results in injury or ill health’. As such there is no definitive workplace injury scenario. A worker in a library can injure themselves by falling off a ladder, an industrial cleaner can be harmed by chemicals used in the cleaning process and a builder can trip up on a cable. Anything can happen in the workplace, especially if safety is not made a priority.
Basically, employers are legally obliged to look after those who work for them. They must ensure that everything has been done to make the work environment as safe as possible. If the employer fails in their duty of care which has led to injury, then there is the possibility of compensation. Employers must by law have employee liability insurance to ensure that they can make a pay out if they are held responsible.
In order to make the workplace safe for their workforce they need to:
- Provide appropriate health and safety training.
- Carry out regular risk assessments.
- Train staff in the use of machinery and equipment and how to carry out work practices in a safe manner.
- They need to provide workers with the appropriate protective gear (PPE).
- Maintenance of machinery needs to be kept up to date.
- They must display warning signs for example for spillages on the factory floor or icy conditions in the car park.
What are the most common types of workplace injury?
As you might expect, the risks of incurring a workplace injury will be higher on say a building site or a factory where heavy machinery is used than in an office. But every workplace has its hazards. Chefs will be in danger of suffering burns at work while someone working on a laptop may acquire a repetitive strain injury.
What the employer must do is make a risk assessment and ensure that safety procedures are observed.
Even so, accidents do happen and the ones that occur most often include:
Slips, trips and falls
A high number of workplace accidents happen because of a fall. It’s all too easy to leave cables lying around, or ignore fluid that has spilled on the ground until it is too late and someone falls or trips as a consequence. This could cause anything from mild bruising to an injury that’s much worse, resulting in broken bones, head injuries and back problems.
Manual work accidents
It stands to reason that anyone doing lifting, carrying and pulling tools, equipment etc will be at risk of some kind of injury. As well as the obvious, such as back problems and pulled muscles, there could also be broken bones, heart problems and other injuries caused by heavy lifting.
Workers need to inform their bosses if they have concerns about the manual work they are doing and the employer should act accordingly.
Everyone from chefs to those working in industry are at risk from burns. Obviously, protective clothing, signage and warning stickers are absolutely necessary in these environments. If employers do not provide these and there is an accident they could be liable.
Motor vehicle accidents
Accidents can be a regular occurrence for people whose jobs involve a lot of driving and employers have a duty to inform their drivers of the things they need to do to keep safe. Prohibiting things like texting or eating while on the road should all be part of job training.
Repetitive strain injury
This is caused when someone’s work involves performing the same repetitive task over and over again. Employers should ensure that workers working all day long on their computers should have the correct desk and chair at the right height and ensure those working at monotonous jobs take regular breaks for stretching etc.
What are your rights if you are injured at work?
If you are injured at work, it is your right to seek compensation both for the pain and discomfort you are suffering as well as any money you need to pay for treatment and the income you have lost because you are unable to work.
The same applies if you become mentally unwell as a result of the accident. It is your right to make a personal injury claim should you suffer an injury or illness at work that has been caused by your employer’s negligence.
When should you make a workplace injury claim?
Clearly, the claim should be made as soon as possible but you do have up to three years from the date of the accident to start a workplace injury claim. This timescale can be extended if someone cannot make the claim themselves i.e because they have suffered a brain injury.
While most claims are probably made as soon as they happen there are others where perhaps the amount of harm the injury has caused doesn’t manifest itself until later, for example a chronic back problem may develop.
How do I make a workplace injury claim?
An employer has a duty of care towards the employee if they fail in this duty, they are liable.
To make a claim, you need to prove that the employer failed in their duty of care. In order to do this, you need proof. This could be pictures of the accident site, statements from onlookers and notes you make following the accident, plus a diary detailing treatments and anything else that happened afterwards. A qualified solicitor will be able to help you with everything you need and support you through your claim on a no win no fee basis. Those experienced in the law will fight your case and get you as much compensation as they can, saving you a lot of stress and worry that can follow after the trauma of your accident.
Have you suffered a workplace injury and would like to talk to us about a possible claim? We are here to help so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by following the link here: