Accidents can occur anywhere but are particularly frequent in the workplace. Whether undertaking physical labour or based in an office, if your working environment causes you to suffer an injury you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Workplace accidents and injuries can be caused in a variety of ways. As well as severe physical injuries such as the loss of a limb and industrial diseases caused by hazardous and dangerous work conditions, psychological injuries such as stress can also be caused by an unsafe working environment.
Below we provide an overview of some of the ways injuries can occur at work and your rights should you be involved in a workplace accident.
Have You Been Injured at Work?
It is a sad fact that many of us are injured at work. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2012/2013:
- 1.1 million people suffered from a work related injury;
- 148 workers were killed at work;
- 78,000 injuries were reported under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations);
- 175,000 injuries resulted in over 7 days of absence from work;
- Over 26 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and injury.
The type of work we do often determines the workplace hazards that we can face, but there are some common accidents that can occur in all workplace environments. These include trips, slips and falls as well as lifting, handling and carrying. These accidents can result in a variety of injuries or illnesses, the most common being:
- Repetitive strain injury – also known as work-related upper limb disorder or upper limb pain, this usually affects the wrist, elbow, neck, shoulders and hands, and caused by repetitive movement and overuse;
- Head, neck or back injury – the severity of these types of injury ranges from mild discomfort to potentially serious and life-changing consequences;
- Sprains and strains – these occur regularly and are caused when muscles and ligaments are twisted, stretched or torn in places such as the ankles, knees and wrists;
- Deafness – occupational or industrial deafness occurs when hearing is gradually lost over a long period of time because of noise at work;
- Asthma – occupational asthma is where airways are narrowed and breathing becomes difficult because of exposure to something at work, such as flour, dust, grain or latex;
- Dermatitis – work-related or industrial dermatitis is a disease that can cause the skin to crack and bleed when it comes into contact with a toxic or hazardous substance;
- Vibration white finger – also known as hand-arm vibration syndrome, is caused by working with vibrating tools for a continuous period and can result in permanent numbness in the fingers or muscle weakness.
All of these injuries, however minor, will have an impact on the injured party and their family. They may lose the ability to work and have to rely more heavily on family members and friends. They may also lose the ability to enjoy hobbies or pastimes, suffer consequences later on in life or suffer stress and emotional strain.
If you have suffered an injury at work in the last three years, you may be able to claim compensation. Below we provide an overview of how the law protects those injured at work through no fault of their own.
Compensation for Injuries at Work: Your Rights
The law protects workers and others from harm. If you are injured at work and the accident was not, or only partly, your fault then you are entitled to compensation.
This is because your employer is under a duty to safeguard your wellbeing at work. This means they must make sure any risks to your health and safety, as well as any risks to other people who might come into contact with their business, are controlled and properly managed. Whether personal injury is caused by an employer, co-worker or another person at work, such as a contractor, if the risk of harm could have been avoid, then you may be entitled to compensation.
In particular, your employer must make sure that the working environment does not have:
- Unsafe, inadequate or damaged equipment;
- A lack of safety equipment; or
- Dangerous working practices.
They must also make sure that workers don’t come into contact with hazardous substances or materials, such as asbestos, without suitable protection being provided.
As part of their duty to look after their workers, all employers must have Employers’ Liability Insurance. This insurance is required by law and ensures that an employer can pay compensation to an employee who makes a claim for an injury or illness caused by their working environment. It also means that an injured employee cannot be disciplined or sacked for making a claim. Damages for workplace accidents, like any compensation, are intended to restore you as closely as possible to the position you would have been in had the injury not happened.
Although workers have the right to work in a safe environment and employers are under the duty to ensure the working environment is safe and complies with health and safety laws, employees also have responsibilities. These include taking reasonable care for your own and your fellow employees’ wellbeing and co-operating with employers and co-workers to help them meet their legal duties.
If you have had an accident at work that has caused an injury and you think you have a claim, contact our specialist personal injury solicitors at Dallas McMillan. We’re here to help you every step of the way.
Contact Our Expert Personal Injury Solicitors Today
At Dallas McMillan, we’re committed to securing compensation for victims of all types of workplace accidents. We want the best for our clients and regularly work on a no-win, no-fee basis so they aren’t burdened with the usually expenses involved in pursuing a personal injury claim. If you have been injured at work because of another’s mistake or because your working conditions were unsafe, our specialist lawyers can help.
Contact us on 0141 333 6750