1.2 million working people were suffering from a work-related illness and 28.2 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury in 2013-2014
Common causes of accidents at work
- Slips, trips and falls are the most common workplace related injury
- Manual handling is the main work-related activity to cause back disorders
- Other common causes of accidents at work include being struck by a moving object and accidents involving machinery or vehicles
Even with the most stringent health and safety policies in place, accidents at work do happen. If you are involved in an accident at work which wasn’t your fault then you could be entitled to make a claim against your employer. Accident compensation claims for a work related fall or slip could range from hundreds to thousands of pounds depending on the severity of the incident.
Slips, Trips and Falls
According to the Health and Safety Executive, the most common accidents in the workplace from 2013-2014 involved trips and slips,with nearly 8,000 reported injuries as a result of this type of accident. Falls, which often result in very serious injuries, accounted for around 3,000 reported injuries.
These kinds of accidents are mostly caused by cluttered walkways in communal areas, trailing cables and people slipping on ice or on unreported fluid spillages. A vigilant employer in a place of work can check for all these problems, alongside making sure there is always adequate lighting, guard rails and handrails in the workplace.
Slips, trips and falls are most common in the water supply and waste industry, transport and storage industry and the construction industry. These types of accidents generally result in damage to a person’s limbs, neck, back or head, but falls in particular can lead to death in the workplace.
Manual Handling and Lifting Accidents
Manual handling covers any activities in the workplace that involve lifting, lowering, pushing or pulling, carrying, moving or even just holding objects.The type of injuries that result as
malpractice in handling and lifting are commonly musculoskeletal injuries to the back; also injuries to the hands,arms, feet and tendons can occur as a result of similar scenarios.
A load as light as five kilograms can cause injury if not lifted with the correct techniques. It’s required by law for employers to provide proper training on lifting and handling.Compensation for lifting accidents can go as high as six figures because back and neck injuries can persist over a lifetime so it’s important for employers to put in place the necessary procedures to ensure their employees don’t suffer an injury.
There are regulatory guidelines in place to help prevent these accidents from occurring; any carrying should not be over long distances, shouldn’t require any strenuous activity and shouldn’t involve a situation where load movement can be unpredictable, unstable or difficult to hold. Any heavy lifting should be done with the proper equipment wherever possible.
Other common injuries
The majority of workplace accidents lead to musculoskeletal afflictions including common sprains and strains (often to the back area), fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. These can often be prevented by taking a little extra care in whatever activities you undertake, so both employers and employees should adhere to health and safety recommendations outlined for your industry and occupation.
Other, less common, injuries involve bruises and contusions (often from striking objects or being struck), cuts and lacerations, heat burns and chemical burns.
It’s your employer’s responsibility to provide you with the equipment needed to do your job safely. This is particularly important when it comes to working in an industrial setting. For example, employees who operate heavy machinery could be vulnerable to the risk of injury if the machinery isn’t checked properly or if it’s faulty. If you work in a noisy factory for example and your employer hasn’t provided you with ear defenders and you suffer industrial deafness or noise induced hearing loss then you might be in a position to make a claim. If you work with harmful chemicals or are exposed to industrial fumes, your employer is responsible for protecting you from any hazardous substances in the workplace and will need to comply with regulations to reduce the risk of contracting an industrial disease.
How to report an accident
Recording the details of your accident correctly will give you the best chance of making a successful compensation claim. If you have been injured in the workplace, you must inform your employer or the person responsible for the premises (for example, after a slip in the foyer of a shared office block) as they are responsible for reporting the incident.
Your employer will have an Accident Book in which you can report any accident and this acts as a record should you require time off work or need evidence when making a compensation claim. Accident Books are useful for employers as it can helpto flag up any reoccurring issues in the workplace and highlight any potential health and safety risk which needs assessing.
Below is a guide to the process you should take after sustaining an injury at work:
Recording your accident
Government regulations state that employers must provide “adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.” Most businesses have a least one member of staff who is trained to give first aid and who will help you if you need medical attention as the result of an accident.
After providing you with medical attention, the first aider should also write up a report of the injuries you sustained and a description of what happened.
In larger companies, your accident may be recorded on your Occupational Health records, alongside details of any medical attention you’ve received from your GP or hospital. If you have filled in an accident questionnaire or had an interview with a manager or supervisor after your accident, details of this will also go in your accident record.
Your employer is legally required to report your accident to the Health and Safety Executive, if the accident causes you to be off sick from work for at least 10 days or more or if you have suffered a work related illness. This report is known as a RIDDOR report – Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, as amended.
You (or your Solicitor) will need to see a copy of the company’s Risk Assessment to determine whether the accident cause has already been recognised and could, therefore have be prevented.
What evidence is needed
All of the above reports can be used as evidence of your accident, should the case go to court. This is why it’s so important to follow your employer’s protocol when it comes to reporting an accident. Other evidence which could be used in your claim includes sick notes from your doctor, a record of your GP and/or hospital appointments and a record of your absence from work. If your employer is reluctant to give you a copy of any records related to your accident then your Solicitor can request them for you to put a case together against your employer.
Medical examination and evidence
Your Solicitor should put you in touch with a trusted medical professional who will assess you and create a report based on your injuries and your medical history. Your assessment and the resulting report will be included as part of your evidence. This assessment will usually be free and once the report is complete, the medical expert will then send this to your Solicitor.
Potential issues with your claim
- Time limit – There is a standard three year time frame within which you have to make your personal injury claim. This three year period starts from either the date of your accident or the date when you found out your injury was related to the accident, this may, for example, be revealed in your medical examination. In the case of an accident which causes death, the three year time frame begins from the date of a person’s death.
- Employer is no longer trading – As the time limit to make a claim is just three years, it’s unlikely your employer would have stopped trading during this time. However, if this is the case, you can still make a claim as your employer will still have worker compensation insurance in place which will cover your claim. Companies have this insurance in place for the sole purpose of paying compensation claims should someone be injured at work. Even if your employer has gone bankrupt, providing they had insurance in place at the time of your accident, you can still claim compensation.
The Claim Process
The criterion for making a claim is pretty simple. If you’ve suffered an injury, illness or disease because of your employer’s negligence then you can make a personal injury claim for compensation.
The term ‘personal injury’ covers everything from a twisted ankle to asbestosis. All you have to do is prove that your injury was caused by the negligence of another party and you have grounds for a claim.
Speak to a Solicitor
If you’re reasonably confident you’ve got grounds for a claim, the next step is to get in contact with a specialist Solicitor. Using a Solicitor is a safer bet than an accident claim company, as the latter simply act as middle men between you and a Solicitor, selling cases on for a profit. This means they don’t always have the expertise they claim to.
Go to a firm which deals primarily in personal injury claims. They’re more likely to know the minutiae of detail relating to personal injury law than a firm which offers a broader variety of services, and naturally they’ll have extensive experience in personal injury claims.
A really important thing to look for is a firm which can offer a face-to-face service. An accident at work can be a traumatic experience so you’ll want to make the process of claiming as stress-free as possible. Make sure you have basic details like the date of the accident, what happened and any kind of evidence you can gather, such as details of witnesses or documents that show negligence or breach of duty that can be used in your case.
Depending on the potential value of any claim and once the details of the accident have been passed to the opposition, they will have a fixed time period in which to respond and investigate any claim.
Your medical assessment
After receiving the notes from any hospital visits along with the documentation from your GP, you will be contacted by a medical expert in the field of the injury which you have been unlucky enough to sustain. This visit will provide your Solicitor with a full assessment of the injuries that you have sustained and this is when a valuation on your claim will be made. This will be based on the facts you have given and the extent of your injuries as advised by the medical expert.
After the Solicitor has been given the go-ahead by yourself, a copy of the details of the potential settlement will be disclosed to the defendant’s insurer. At this point, the insurer of the opposition will either confirm or deny liability in the case and, if liability is admitted, then a settlement will be negotiated on your behalf by your lawyer and you will be paid should you be successful.
Costs and court
Relevant costs will be negotiated too and, if your Solicitor and yourself deem that the compensation is not reasonable, then, should you decide, it is possible to issue court proceedings against your opponent. This is where a judge will determine the payout and other costs.
It could well be that the liability is still being denied by the opposition and, if this is the case, they must give good reason why this is not their fault. In this case, instructions will be taken from yourself and a claim will be built against the defendants. This is when negotiation will take place between the two parties.
If the claim does go to court then it will be for a judge to determine whether the case is successful or not. If you are not successful, then there should be no adverse costs against you for bringing the claim.
To find out more about making a claim for an accident at work, call ASD today on 0800 163 622.
Examples of successful claims
At ASD, we have helped many people who have been injured in an accident in the workplace to claim the compensation they deserve, below are some examples.
- After manually lifting a heavy object, Mr G from Sheffield injured his lower back and ASD helped him secure a five figure sum in compensation.
- Mr H from Barnsley fractured his knee at workafter slipping on moss on his way across the building’s forecourt. Even though the company had ceased trading, ASD helped him claim the compensation he deserved.
- Mr S was awarded £21,500 after severely injuring his hand after it was trapped in a faulty Jaws of Life.
- During a vehicle inspection, Sheffield mechanic Mr R struck his head on the valance of a van he was working on as he exited the inspection pit. Even though the defendant took the case to court, Mr R was awarded compensation shortly before the final trial.