By law, every employer must have insurance to cover them in the event of an accident or injury occurring to a member of staff whilst they are working. This applies to all UK companies that have employees working in the UK, including apprentices; the minimum level of cover is currently five million pounds. The certificate of insurance should be displayed within easy sight of employees, although an online version is also acceptable as long as all employees know where they can view it.
The total cost of workplace injuries and illnesses in the UK in 2010/11 is thought to be around £13.4 billion, a figure that has actually come down by three billion since 2006/7. The costs include loss of time, as well as actual money paid in compensation to individuals who have been injured or contracted a disease. Workplace injuries can arise from a wide range of problems; for example, staff can become complacent with health and safety procedures if they do not feel they are relevant, which can lead to nasty accidents and injuries from the simplest of tasks, such as picking up a box. Regular reviews of the procedures and risk assessments are a must in any company, even in the perceived safety of an office environment.
It is important that employers follow the correct procedures in order to ensure the safety of their staff, but it is equally important that employees pay attention and follow the regulations and procedures that are put in place by the management; after all, they are intended to keep you safe and are not introduced just for fun. Regular risk assessments will highlight potential dangers, which can often be mitigated with safety equipment and training. Office staff should be aware of the safest ways to lift and carry items, and when they should be using a trolley or step ladders. In many companies, failing to comply with health and safety rules is counted as gross misconduct; there is a good reason for this, as a failure to follow a particular procedure may lead to injury to yourself or someone else. If you have an accident at work and have doubts regarding whether you have a claim, then contact Accident Advice Helpline who will be able to advise you; our systems are very straightforward to use and we understand how stressful a workplace accident can be and so deal with every claim with sympathy and understanding.
An insurance policy to cover the employer for accidents or diseases that do happen cannot include exceptions or clauses that mean the insurer does not have to pay compensation if the employee or employer were found to be at fault. However, the insurance company may choose to instigate legal proceedings against whoever they do deem to be responsible; for example, if there is a clear case of unsafe behaviour, failure to comply with the company policies or negligence in any way. This allows them to claim their costs back from the person responsible for the accident.
Your employer is responsible for making your workplace as safe as possible and should provide you with any safety equipment that you need to do your job with minimal risk of injury. However, an employee must also take responsibility for their behaviour and always work in a safe way. It only takes a second for an injury to occur to you or a colleague, which can have life-altering consequences
Date Published: October 17, 2013
Author: David Brown