Employers have a legal obligation to mitigate risks and prevent accidents, but work-related injuries are still far too common. According to statistics reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by employers, people in the UK sustained 61,713 non-fatal workplace injuries between 2021 and 2022, along with 123 fatal injuries. While this is significant, it is only a fraction of the 565,000 injuries self-reported by workers. There are many reasons why these numbers differ so greatly, but one important takeaway from this data is that many people who sustain an injury in the workplace do not report this to their employer and are not counted in official figures.
There are several steps you should take if you are involved in an accident, as we have detailed below. While the easiest thing may be to put the incident behind you, especially if you do not think that you have been seriously injured, this is rarely the best course of action. At the very least, you should inform your employer about the accident and have it recorded in an accident book. Employers must report some accident statistics under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, but this relies on information from employees – this is one reason that self-reported injuries far outnumber those reported by employers.
By following the appropriate procedures after an accident, you can reduce the risk of your injuries getting worse, prevent future accidents and potentially claim compensation that will help you during your recovery and cover any costs associated with your injury. Here, the personal injury experts at Clough & Willis explain what you should do if you suffer an injury at work, and the steps that both you and your employer should take to mitigate the risk of accidents.
Many people who experience an accident in their workplace do not realise that it may have been the fault of their employer – in fact, they may not be aware that the incident would be treated as an accident in the eyes of the law. In other cases, people do not realise that they have suffered an injury following an accident at work because symptoms do not emerge until later. For these reasons, it is important to understand the most common causes of workplace injuries and the responsibilities that both employers and employees have when an accident happens.
HSE’s 2022 data shows that slips, trips and falls were the most common accidents last year, followed by lifting or carrying, and being struck by a moving object or vehicle. HSE’s health and safety guidance is designed to prevent all of these types of accidents: it requires wet floor signs to highlight any heightened risk of slipping, training for any employees whose responsibilities include heavy lifting, and a large number of regulations in areas where vehicles and pedestrians might interact.
The most important first step to take if you are injured at work is to seek medical treatment. Even if you do not feel like you have sustained a serious injury, it is important to have a medical professional examine you and ensure that there are no unseen injuries that could develop into something more serious later on. In some cases, you may need to go to the hospital, and you should have someone you trust follow the procedures below. Otherwise, if you are healthy enough, you can do this yourself.
Once you have sought medical treatment, you should immediately report the accident. This will not only make statistics more accurate and help to highlight risks in a way that might prevent future accidents; it can also help to ensure that the incident is investigated properly and provide evidence that you might rely on if you are eligible to make a claim for compensation.
You should collect as much information and evidence as you can about the circumstances of the incident and the events that led up to it, whether you think you will need it or not. This might mean taking photographs of the site of your injury and any factors that contributed to the accident or your injury – improperly or insecurely stored objects, for example. Take the details of any witnesses to the event, as it may help you if they can provide statements later.
Your employer has a responsibility to carry out risk assessments, provide training and implement effective health and safety procedures to identify and mitigate the most likely causes of accidents. If your accident happened because you were told to use equipment that you were not trained to use safely, or because a preventable risk was not identified or addressed properly, your employer may be found liable for your injury. This is important, not only because it will enable you to claim compensation, but because it will hold your employer accountable for their health and safety failure. By taking action against them, you may be able to prevent further accidents of the same nature from happening in the future.
There are several advantages to claiming compensation: you have a legal right to do so, meaning that your employer cannot take any action against you or penalise you for making a claim. Further, you may be able to claim on a no win, no fee basis, where legal fees are taken from your compensation and there is nothing to pay if you lose the case, meaning that there is no financial risk to you.
Recovering from an injury can require physiotherapy, time off work to heal, private medical treatment, support from family members and friends, or all of the above. You may lose earnings by taking time off work, and incur the costs of transport to medical appointments or private medical bills, all of which can lead to financial losses. Compensation will account for these costs, along with any pain and suffering you experienced as a result of your accident, so it can prevent you from losing money as a result of your injury.
By following the procedures above, you can ensure that your accident is reported correctly, that your employer takes responsibility for mitigating risk and preventing future accidents, and that you have the time and space you need to fully recover from any injuries you sustained.
Collaborated with Chris Macwilliam, Partner and Head of Personal Injury, Clough & Willis Solicitors.