Accidents at Work – The Facts

Have you had an accident at work during the last year? If so, you’re one of the 591,000 people who, according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), were injured in a work-related accident in 2011/12. Just under half of the afflicted needed three days off work to recover whilst an unlucky 173 didn’t get better at all; their injuries were fatal.

HSE data shows that the main types of accident are falls (from height as well as tripping up), being hit by a moving object/vehicle and being trapped. Handling, lifting and carrying injuries account for about 30% of personal injury claims whilst electrical accidents are also quite common and can, of course, be fatal.

These figures may look horrendous, but the number of accidents has actually fallen over the last decade. This is largely because of tighter legislation. Firms with inadequate health and safety procedures can receive harsh penalties, especially if someone is injured or dies as a result of their failings. Guilty firms/personnel could face large fines and/or up to two years’ imprisonment.

Health and safety gone mad

It’s reassuring to know that the issue is being taken seriously, but some companies are now so obsessed with keeping employees safe that they behave in a way that defies all logic. This is why the HSE’s Myth Busters Challenge Panel exists. This investigates incidents in which health and safety considerations are exaggerated out of all proportion. During a recent incident, a customer asked a fishmonger on a supermarket’s fresh fish counter to fillet a trout. The supervisor refused to allow it (on the grounds of health and safety) because “the fish are too slippery”. This is clearly taking it too far. The panel thought so too, concluding that “Slippery fish are a fact of life!” This, in their view, was “an example of poor customer service” given where one could reasonably expect the service to be available at a fishmonger’s counter when the supermarket’s website advertises the service.

All employers must have Employer’s Liability Insurance and carry out routine risk assessments of potential accidents. Employees also have a duty to acknowledge their employer’s health and safety procedures and be careful about what they do in the workplace. Employees may be able to make a claim if their employer does not carry out its duty to protect them.

What to do if you have an accident at work:

• Report the incident to your employers and note the names of witnesses

• If you pay for medical care, keep all receipts

• Ensure your employer records the accident with HSE online and keeps a record of any serious injuries in the workplace accident book

• Encourage your employer to rectify the problem that caused your injury

• If you wish to make an insurance claim, you must do so within three years of the accident and you will need help from a solicitor who specialises in personal injury law

If you or someone you know has been injured in a workplace accident, http://www.jefferies-solicitors.com may be able to offer advice and/or help with your claim for compensation.


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