Despite increasingly strict Health and Safety regulations in the UK, it is estimated that a shocking 60% of workplace accidents go unreported every year. Often, this is because employees are unaware of their rights as victims of accidents and therefore do not push for compensation. Rather than trusting that the supervisor or company manager will make the right decision, it is important for every employee to be aware of the company’s obligation to provide a healthy and safe working environment, and in the event of an accident, their rights as an employee to make a work injury claim.
Employers’ Responsibilities: The first responsibility for providing a safe work environment lies with the employer. The company must carry out risk assessments to determine what measures must be taken to ensure a safe working environment for all employees and visitors. Decisions that must be made include how many first-aiders need to be trained and what kind of safety equipment must be available for use in the workplace. Depending upon what sector the company works in, the Health and Safety Manager will be able to use guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive to determine the unique needs of each workplace.
Employees’ Responsibilities: Employees, too, have a responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for themselves. Usually this can be obtained through following Health and Safety Guidelines set by the company. Maintaining good working practice and employing common sense and care is the best way to prevent unwanted accidents from occurring.
Reporting Accidents: While accidents are never welcome, they do happen. It is important that employees and employers address these occurrences and follow the correct steps to both report the accident and review it in order to ensure that it will not happen again. Nearly every company in Britain is legally required to keep a work accident book. This book will create a lasting record of work-related deaths and any serious injuries that occurred at the workplace, including broken limbs, unconsciousness or admittance to the hospital for more than 24 hours. Employers should also record any ‘dangerous occurrences’ that happened in the workplace, such as escape of biological or chemical substances, falls or scaffolding collapses. While all employers must keep an accident book, not all accidents must be reported to the Health and Safety Executive.
The Health and Safety Executive’s website provides a complete list of which events must legally be reported under RIDDOR. Any employee that has suffered an accident at work must ensure that his or her employer makes a record of the accident. This record will be important for claiming compensation, and it can help employers to review their health and safety policies in order to make a safer working environment for all employees.
Holding Employers Accountable: While the best medicine is prevention, unexpected events do still happen. Too often, these accidents could be prevented by better maintenance of the working environment. Employees who are injured as a result of their company’s negligence and failure to follow proper Health and Safety guidelines must know their rights when it comes to receiving compensation for their losses. Likewise, employers are legally required to have purchased insurance which allows them to cover such claims.
Making a Work Injury Claim: Employees should make a work injury claim for compensation if they have been injured at work as a result of their company’s failure to implement correct health and safety measures. Making an injury claim must be done through a lawyer. Those who belong to trade unions may have access to legal services, but those who do not should employ a specialist in personal injury law.