Bob Beard of Coodes Solicitors’ Personal Injury team outlines what you should do if you have an accident at work.
Let’s face it, most of us spend a lot of our time at work. And however careful you and your employer are, accidents at work can – and do – regularly occur.
You should report the accident to your employer as soon as possible. It is important then to make sure it is recorded in the employer’s accident book. If this is not done, or there is no accident book, then write down the details of the accident and send it to your boss, as well as keeping a copy for yourself, at the earliest opportunity.
If you cannot report the accident yourself because you are too badly injured or ill then ask someone else to do it for you.
You should get the names of any witnesses, ideally together with photographic evidence. You or your witnesses should attempt to record any warning signs of the impending accident, such as careless action by co-workers, faulty equipment or hazardous conditions.
If you have an accident at work, the first priority should be your health and wellbeing. Even if your injury does not seem to be that serious then you should still see a doctor. The doctor can record the medical details of your accident, which will be useful if you want to seek compensation or if you need to claim benefits. It is important to follow any medical advice, which may include time away from work, medication or rehabilitation such as physiotherapy.
If you think the conditions at your work place are unsafe you should talk to your trade union or contact the Health and Safety Executive.
Everyone is entitled to statutory sick pay if they need time off because of an injury. Check your contract of employment to see if you are also entitled to additional sick pay from your employer. Depending on the seriousness of your injury you might also be able to claim benefits.
If you have an accident at work through no fault of your own and you believe your employer is to blame you may be able to blame compensation. This would include any loss of earnings if you were unable to work as a result of your accident or injuries. Your employers are, by law, required to hold insurance in relation to any claim for compensation.
Keeping a record of the progression of both your physical and any psychological injury can be useful in supporting a claim for compensation. Also keep records of any financial losses that you have suffered as a direct result of the accident. If you decide to make a work accident claim you will need to provide your legal representative with this information, and if you have a good record this will make the process easier and more accurate.
From the date of an accident you have three years in which to make a work accident claim. It is always best to instruct a legal representative at the earliest opportunity when your memory of the accident will be at its most vivid. Seeking early legal advice can also protect you from improper responses from your employer, including misplaced blame for the incident or denying you your benefits.
Your employer has a duty of care to ensure that you are safe at work, that you have the right equipment to carry out your job and that you have been correctly trained to carry out your tasks along with competent work colleagues. Remember – if you think you are in serious and immediate danger at work you have a right to protect yourself.