Accidents at Work

04 November 2020

Every employer has a legal responsibility to provide a secure workplace environment.

That’s why proper procedures are essential when it comes to accidents in the workplace. It’s for the benefit of your staff, customers, and the general public.

If an employer neglects these legal requirements, the consequences can be detrimental for both employee and business welfare.

Some accident at work claims are judged through tribunal courts. Here, you could be asked to pay maximum compensation fees, close your business, or even face potential imprisonment.

In this guide, we’ll look at what an accident at work is, how to comply with health and safety laws, and ways to manage personal injury claims at work.

What is an accident at work?

An accident at work is when a person suffers from an injury or illness in a workplace.

Work accidents can occur due to lack of training, improper facilities, and even through negligence. But they can also happen unexpectedly, at any given time.

Injuries can be managed internally, through medical treatment or by offering sick leave. But sometimes, they need to be dealt with formally, through the right authorities.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are a governing body who regulate workplace safety standards. They help businesses manage work-related injuries, fatal incidents, and ill-health.

What are examples of common accidents at work?

There are so many examples of a workplace accident or near miss. And every year, they can cost thousands of pounds–for both businesses and employees.

Some workplace injuries can result in taking sick leave and statutory sick pay. Other times, employees could face certain accidents which lead to life-long illnesses, paralysis, and even death.

Some of the most common ones include:

  • Being injured from bad manual handling.
  • Suffering from slips, trips, and falls.
  • Being hit by a moving, flying, or falling object.
  • Being physically assaulted by a person.
  • Suffering from psychological-related illnesses.

Who is responsible for an accident at work?

An employer holds overall responsibility for every accident or injury caused in their workplace.

Employers have a legal duty to present a secure working environment. It’s also your responsibility to ensure all employees are given sufficient training to perform their jobs safely.

Every business needs to adhere to relevant employment laws relating to workplace H&S. These laws include:

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • The Equality Act 2010.
  • The Employment Rights Act 1996.
  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

Health & safety in the workplace

When it comes to health & safety, you need to ensure the right checks and procedures are being carried out. This can include a range of things, like training first aiders or mapping out evacuation routes.

In the end, good health & safety practices come from the mutual effort of you and your staff. These include:

How to manage an accident or injury in the workplace

Remember, it is the responsibility of the employer to manage every incident or accident in the workplace.

As mentioned, your first call of duty is to attend to any injured person or parties. Once they are safe and content, you should take reasonable steps to deal with the risk or hazard.

Here are steps on managing an accident at work:

Keep an accident book

If a business hires more than 10 employees, an accident book must be kept. The accident book allows you to document both minor and major incidents.

For less serious injuries, document them through an accident at work form. For more serious ones, you are legally required to report them to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The accident book should be kept in line with your workplace safety policies. That way, all employees will fully understand your work procedure surrounding injured people.

Document the details of the accident

The report must be conducted by an employee with sufficient training. Alternatively, you can hire an external officer who oversees accident reports.

In the report, document the following details:

  • The date, time, and location of the accident.
  • The contact details of the victim or witnesses involved.
  • An account of how the incident happened.
  • Environmental conditions, like slippery surfaces or bad lighting.
  • Any specific injuries that were discovered.
  • Whether medical treatment or benefits were offered (like statutory sick pay).
  • Damage to workplace property, like equipment or stock.

You should also consider whether the victim is considered vulnerable. For example, they could be elderly, pregnant, or have medical conditions (like a disability).

Investigate the cause of the accident

For a serious accident, a formal investigation into the cause must be held.

The main aim of the investigation is to gather information, evidence, and accounts. After this, an overall incident report is written out.

For example, if water spills in the workplace, you need to think about:

  1. Immediate causes, like slipping on the water.
  2. Underlying causes, like the floor not being mopped after the spill.
  3. Root causes, like employees not being trained to mop and dry floors appropriately.

Report to the right authorities

If needs be, you may legally need to report the accident to the right authorities. For this, comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

It’s so important to avoid neglecting this step. If you do, you could be held accountable–putting your staff and the business at risk.

If the incident needs to be reported, you must submit one or more relating forms:

  1. Report of an injury.
  2. Report of a dangerous occurrence.
  3. Report of a case of disease.
  4. Report of flammable gas incident.
  5. Report of a dangerous gas fitting.
  6. Report of an injury offshore.
  7. Report of a dangerous occurrence offshore.

Review your health & safety risk assessments

After submission, look into implementing changes to your workplace. The best way to establish where change is needed is through health & safety risk assessments.

These assessments outline how to effectively manage the injured parties. And more importantly, how to stop mistakes from reoccurring in the future.

After serious accidents, you are legally required to amend relevant assessments. And remember, a risk assessment is a legal requirement for any business which employs more than five people.

Can employees claim compensation because of an accident at work?

Yes, employees are legally allowed to raise a compensation claim because of a work accident.

There are so many businesses whose daily tasks involve dangerous situations. That’s why it’s vital to follow strict safety rules.

However, workplace injuries are ultimately inevitable, even if your work procedure is water-tight.

Some employees may decide to raise an accident at work claim. This is especially common if they’ve suffered from lasting injuries or impacts to their wellbeing. A personal injury claim can stop you from working; on the short-term basis, or even permanently.

In the end, employees might decide to raise a claim for an accident through a tribunal hearing. Final decisions are based around the seriousness of the injury, as well as the rate of recovery.

A court hearing might also consider other factors, like loss of earnings or paying both medical and legal fees.

Can an employee be dismissed after an accident at work?

Under UK law, an employer cannot dismiss a worker because of an accident at work.

The employer must initially manage the outcome of the accident. Ensure both employees and non-employees are safe. Then work on eliminating any chance of a repeated episode. This is done through short term means (like removing faulty equipment) as well as long term ones (like implementing safety policies). Also ensure the affected person or party is safe and well. This is regardless of whether they caused the accident or not.

Check whether they need to seek medical attention or require medical records. Demonstrate the importance of their safety over the outcome of the situation. Remember, if they feel guilty for causing an accident, it could affect their motivation, confidence, and overall workplace relations.

If an employer decides to terminate their role straightaway, they could risk causing an unfair dismissal. The employee could decide to raise their grievance to an employment tribunal. Here, if an employee claiming compensation wins, payment may be given from the employer’s insurance company.

Get expert guidance on accidents at work with Peninsula

It’s crucial to control all risks and hazards which may lead to an accident at work.

From safety work procedures to handling equipment properly–through the right means, you can protect the welfare of your employees, customers, and clients.

Neglecting these means you could end up attending court hearings. And if you’re found guilty, you could face expensive legal costs, business closure, and even imprisonment.

Peninsula offers expert guidance on managing an accident at work. Our team offers 24/7 health and safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We also provide advice through multi-lingual support and fully trained counsellors who are ready to help with any personal injury claims.

Want to find out more? Book a free chat with one of our HR consultants. For further information, call 0800 028 2420.

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