There are a wide range of workplace accidents that occur daily which result in injury. The injuries can be physical and psychological for example, injury from faulty equipment or stress. If your employer breaches their statutory/legal duties and you are injured as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.
Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment, safe/protective clothing and training in so far as is reasonably practicable, to protect their employees. Failure to do so can result in an employer being held liable civilly, and in some circumstances, criminally. If you are injured at work, there are things that you can do to assist when considering whether to proceed with a claim. Having a record of your accident is essential and it will also assist if you require to apply for certain benefits. Companies with more than ten employees must record all incidents in an accident book. It is recommended to always ask to see a copy of this record. Small businesses may still have their own recording procedure which they should advise you of, if the need arises. If there is no accident book, write down the details of the accident, and send a copy of this to your employer so you are both in agreement about what occurred on the day, who witnessed it and the injuries it left you with. You cannot be dismissed after an accident at work because you have made or are considering making a personal injury claim. If your employer attempts to do this, you would/may have grounds to make a claim for unfair dismissal.
In the event that you have been injured during your employment:
- Make an appointment to see your GP or attend hospital as soon as possible after the event. As well as receiving treatment for your injuries, there will then be an independent record of your accident and the resulting injuries in your medical records. Your employer is not legally required to give you time off when visiting your GP, but they may do so. They may require you to make up this time later on or take annual leave for this appointment.
- Take photos of the injury itself at the time and over a period of days as the injury develops. Photos taken from a digital camera have the date and time electronically stamped in them, which will assist in accurate recording in any subsequent personal injury claim.
- If there are witnesses to your accident, obtain contact details for them and ask them if they would be willing to speak to your solicitor to provide them with a brief statement about what they saw, to corroborate what happened.
- Write down what occurred as soon as possible from your perspective, to prevent important details being lost with the passage of time.
It will be set out in your employment contract if you are entitled to contractual sick pay when you are off work. If you are not entitled to contractual sick pay, you may receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. Employers are only required to pay this if an employee is absent for a continuous period of four days or more.
It is best to get legal advice as soon as possible from a solicitor who can advise you on your rights when considering whether to proceed with a claim and what your employer can and cannot do. If you are a member of a trade union, they will be able to support and signpost you as well.
Blog by Stephanie Spencer