By Chris Macwilliam, Partner and Head of Personal Injury, Clough & Willis Solicitors
Suffering an accident in the workplace can be extremely traumatic. It can result in physical and psychological injury that can affect how you feel about your job or keep you out of work for a long time while you recover. An accident can also be very frustrating because, in many cases, it is not the fault of the person who is injured.
Workplaces have a legal responsibility to ensure they are as safe as possible for workers, visitors and anyone else who may be on the premises at any time, and this includes implementing measures to reduce the risk of accidents. Some industries have requirements to mitigate specific risks that are more common to their work. When a business or workplace fails to meet requirements and an accident occurs, the employer is typically liable.
Despite this, work-related injuries are still far too common. Data provided to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by employers revealed that 61,713 non-fatal workplace injuries occurred in the UK between 2021 and 2022. The number of injuries self-reported by employees is significantly higher, at 565,000.
For these reasons, it is vital that you understand the steps you need to take following a workplace accident. Here, the personal injury experts at Clough & Willis Solicitors explain what to do when an accident occurs, how to ensure you have the best chance to recover following an injury, and how these procedures could help you to make workplaces safer and prevent accidents and injuries in the future.
Step One: Seek Medical Help
The first thing you should do following a workplace accident is to seek medical attention. Even if you do not feel like you have been injured, many types of injury do not become apparent until days or even weeks later. If you are checked by a medical professional, this can not only help to identify any injuries that you would otherwise be unaware of, but can also be used as evidence later if you decide to make a claim for compensation. There are several good reasons to do so, as we will explain later.
Step Two: Collect Evidence
If you have received medical attention and you do not need any immediate treatment, you should ensure that you report the accident to your employer and have it recorded in an accident book. This is important because it provides legal evidence that the accident occurred and could be used to make your workplace safer in the future.
The disparity between the accident statistics provided to the HSE by employers and those reported by workers suggests that many accidents may go unreported. Without accurate data, the HSE cannot develop or enforce health and safety policies that will successfully prevent the most common accidents.
The final step you should take immediately following an accident is to collect evidence. Speak to any witnesses to the accident about the circumstances, and if possible, take photographs of the area where the incident took place, and of any relevant equipment or circumstances. If you are taken elsewhere for urgent treatment, ask someone you trust to do this for you, if you are able to.
Step Three: Recovery
Your doctor will give you advice on how best to recover following an injury, and you should follow their advice to the letter. This may mean that you need to take time off work – or in more serious cases, you may be left permanently unable to work, or forced to change to a different career as a result of an injury. Needless to say, this can lead to significant financial losses. Taking time off work can lead to a loss of income, but beyond this, you may face significant costs relating to your injury. These can include private medical expenses, travel to medical and physiotherapy appointments, or larger outgoings like adjustments to your home or lifestyle that may be necessary.
Therefore, you should consider whether or not to claim compensation for your injury. Compensation can provide for any financial losses resulting from your injury and also cover any pain and suffering you experienced, allowing you to avoid bearing the brunt of the costs associated with your injury. Furthermore, it is your legal right, meaning that your employer cannot punish you for making a claim.
Stage Four: The Aftermath
If you decide to claim compensation, or would like to learn more about the process, speak to an expert personal injury solicitor. They can help you to understand whether or not you have a case, and take on as much responsibility for managing the legal proceedings as possible, to ensure you can focus on your recovery. Claiming compensation can help you to avoid financial losses, and many solicitors offer their services on a no win, no fee basis, meaning that there is no risk for you in making a claim.
In some cases, compensation can be a vital part of the recovery process. It can provide the funds you need to seek private medical treatment, which may offer you a far better prognosis following an injury. If you need to adjust your home to accommodate a disability or now have long-term medical needs that would cost you money, compensation will take this into account.
Alongside these benefits, claiming can also ensure that your employer’s liability for your accident is legally recognised. This can often result in workplaces improving their health and safety procedures and can prevent accidents in the future, meaning that there are a large number of potential benefits. By taking the steps we have listed above, you can be sure that you will have the best possible chance to claim compensation, recover to the fullest extent, and shore up health and safety in your workplace.
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