Your employer has a legal duty to ensure the safety of employees and personnel as detailed in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This piece of legislation outlines the responsibilities employers have towards minimising risk and ensuring that the working environment is as safe as is humanly possible. As part of this legislation, your employer is obliged to carry out regular safety assessments and audits.
Following these assessments, employers must ensure that personnel are provided with clear information and training pertaining to their role, accompanied by updates to existing working practices where new hazards are found to exist. Emergency procedures should be updated and changed where appropriate and trained, certified individuals should be used for the implementation of health and safety updates and procedures.
A variety of accidents at work can occur where there is a health and safety breach. Yet, the types of injury can range from bone breakages to burns, blunt force trauma, industrial deafness, COPDs, WRULDs, disability and even death in severe construction accidents. The kind of injury sustained will depend largely upon your occupation, your working conditions and the nature of the health and safety breach.
Legally, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be provided to protect employees whilst tools, machinery and structures should be inspected and mended to prevent any risk of injury to personnel. Where such precautions are not taken, victims of resulting accidents are entitled to make a health and safety compensation claim.
What causes these accidents?
The most common cause of industrial accidents is employer negligence. Some employers will neglect to provide safe working conditions in accordance with the law and the resulting breach in health and safety guidelines can lead to accidents, injury and in some cases, death.
These accidents may arise where appropriate protective equipment is not provided, where employees are improperly trained, or where structures or equipment are faulty or unsound.
PPE is vital. It should be provided free of charge by your employer, it is wrong of them to ask for any financial contribution and you should be given this before you are allowed to begin work. Equipment should be safety checked and the appropriate training and printed instructions should be made available to enable safe use. Multiple pieces of PPE must be compatible so as not to compromise the effectiveness of individual protective items.
Thorough training must be provided to ensure employee safety. This should include a comprehensive induction, along with training on emergency drills, known hazards, working techniques such as proper lifting as well as instructions on how to use the provided PPE and tools. This training should be refreshed at regular intervals.
Structures and equipment that are pervasive on site, or are vital to the work being carried out, should be checked regularly and inspected for damage, signs or wear and faults. These inspections need to be carried out by qualified inspectors who must organise repairs or replacements where faults are found. Until such recommendations have been actioned, the equipment noted should not be used.
In the case of an accident where none of these health and safety requirements are met, you may be eligible to make a claim for health and safety compensation. The sum will depend largely upon the specific conditions of your accident and the extent of your injury. To ensure the success of your claim, you should seek legal aid from an expert personal injury solicitor.
Health and Safety Accident Symptoms
The symptoms experienced as a result of an accident at work will depend largely upon the type of accident endured. Occupational injuries are so varied that it would be inappropriate to list them all here; but the most common accidents at work involve slips, trips, falls and impact with tools, furnishings and equipment. These are among the easiest occupational accidents to prevent, but they can cause severe harm.
Such accidents can lead to broken bones, fractures, deep tissue damage, trauma, lacerations, concussion and in severe cases, head and brain damage. Accidents like these will commonly result in time off work, loss of income and possibly some temporary or permanent loss of mobility. There can also be lasting side effects that can affect your ability to work in the long-term.
Some more severe symptoms can include burns, hearing loss, skin rashes, shortness of breath and chest pain, joint problems and sensory issues. Where symptoms like these occur it is critical that you consult with your GP or seek medical attention as these symptoms can result from exposure to toxic or harmful substances that can have dire long-term consequences.
Health and Safety Injury Diagnosis
Due to the wide variety of injuries that can be sustained in an accident at work, your diagnosis will be dependent upon the circumstances of the accident and the symptoms that you present with. Some injuries will require immediate and intensive medical attention, whilst some individuals may feel that they can ‘sleep off’ their injury and then return to work shortly after. In the latter case, this can be dangerous. Where a seemingly minor injury has been sustained, it can be the precursor to a more serious injury; where an employee sustains a minor arm fracture, they may write it off as non-specific pain resulting from an impact. If they return to work the next day and begin lifting heavy goods, they may well break their arm entirely.
So when consulting with your GP, they will examine a number of areas.
These can include:
- Discussing medical and work history, exploring your role and the equipment provided.
- Any recent injuries, accidents or events that may have affected you
- Symptoms presenting whilst working or at rest that might be related to an accident at work
- Whether symptoms are aggravated by repetitive tasks
Where your injury results in time off work and lost earnings as a consequence, making a claim for health and safety compensation can give you the financial security you need to focus on improving your health and returning to the workplace. To ensure you have the best chance of success, be sure to contact a personal injury solicitor for advice on how to proceed.
The severity of injury and the circumstances under which it occurred will usually dictate the kind of treatment you receive. Where you sustain a fracture, you may be provided with a splint for support and pain killers for pain management; in the event of a full break you may be given a full or partial cast and stronger pain medication. If you experienced a fall which led to blunt force trauma to joints or limbs, you may have escaped a break but you might still suffer from deep tissue damage that my require months of physiotherapy to recover from.
Where a more severe industrial injury is sustained however, you may require treatment from a variety of specialists over the course of many weeks, months and in some cases, many years. For this reason, it is imperative that you contact your GP and a personal injury solicitor as soon as you are involved in an accident; as delaying action can result in medical complications and a weaker compensation claim.
Health and Safety Compensation Claims
The scope for an accident at work can be huge depending upon your occupation. Construction work is notoriously dangerous, whilst office work is commonly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome claims and repetitive strain injuries. Whatever your role, you employer is obliged to protect you by minimising the risks and clearly marking out the remaining hazards in your workspace. Any failure on their part can result in accidents at work that can make your life painful, frustrating and difficult. If such an accident is their fault, you should make a claim for health and safety compensation.
Some employers neglect their duties intentionally to save money, or it may come as a result of a certain working culture. Other employers simply forget what their responsibilities are, or are unintentionally ignorant of their duty. Whatever their reason, existing health and safety legislation clearly defines their responsibilities so that they have no excuse for any breach in health and safety on their premises. So where an employee is injured as a result of a health and safety breach or lack of PPE they are eligible to claim health and safety compensation from their employer’s insurer.
If you’ve suffered in such an accident, making a health and safety compensation claim can be a daunting task. To make a successful claim you will need to prove your employer’s negligence and you may not know which documentation and information will be required. To ensure that your claim for compensation is thorough, it is worth contacting a personal injury solicitor; as they will know which documentation and proof will be required. They can collate the necessary paperwork and deal with the necessary people on your behalf allowing you to focus on recuperating and returning to work.
When you are friendly with your employer, making a claim for compensation can feel incredibly awkward. You may also be scared for your job security. Fortunately, the law protects compensation claimants; you must also remember that any compensation received will be paid out by the insurer, not the company and that they pay to have insurance policies in place to cater for situations exactly like yours.
In making a health and safety compensation claim, you will also be protecting colleagues and staff; as your claim will remind your employer of their responsibilities. Any health and safety improvements made as a result of your claim can protect them from injury and in some cases, even death.
Copious amounts of legislation exist to protect employees from occupational hazards; these also exist to reduce the number of compensation claims made:
- The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
- The Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989
- The Noise at Work Regulations 1989
- The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH)
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
- The Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations (CHIP 2) 1994
- The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994
- The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
- The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 1992
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
- The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
I think I may be affected, what should I do?
If you have suffered in an accident at work in spite of the above legislation, you should speak with your GP and contact Asons Solicitors today. If you are suffering from other severe or abnormal symptoms, speak to your GP immediately to prevent the progression of these symptoms.
You should talk to your GP about:
- Any past or present jobs where you were injured due to a health and safety breach
- Any long-term, repetitive tasks you carried out
- Your symptoms and treatment
- Tests you may need
- Whether you should undertake physiotherapy or see a specialist
- How to protect yourself and others
Where your work results in industrial injury, your employer should implement safeguards to prevent further injury and to minimise the risks to other employees. A review of your role and workspace should be completed to identify problem areas so that new techniques and equipment can be recommended to prevent further exposure or injury.
Health And Safety Breaches Resources
Our comprehensive guide to the problem of accidents sustained at work resulting from health and safety breaches, entitled Workplace Accidents – The Occupational Hazard, details all types of common claims from falls to electric shocks to hearing loss, alongside remarkable statistics on their occurrence.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides plenty of helpful information for both employers and victims of health and safety breaches. It provides brochures and printed material for use in the work place as well as guides and checklists for ensuring employee safety. It also includes directions to other support groups that deal with specific injuries.
What Should I do now?
If you feel that you have been affected by a health and safety breach or an accident at work then you should contact us to make a health and safety compensation claim today. You should also consult with a GP in case there are other psychological symptoms that have to be dealt with, such as stress resulting from the accident.
How can Asons Solicitors help?
We understand that falling victim to an accident at work can be stressful, and that the resulting injury, time off work and loss of income can be painful and frustrating. No one knows this better than our expert personal injury solicitors. Here at Asons solicitors, we can provide assistance for any occupational injury. By speaking to us, you will be guaranteed to receive the utmost care and attention whilst we deal with your health and safety compensation claim.