Health and safety at work is key for a happy working life. If you have an accident at work though, making sure the correct legal procedures are followed can make a big difference to your chances of successfully claiming compensation. For this reason, it is a good idea for every employee to understand the basics of health and safety law, what protection they’re entitled to and what should be done if something goes wrong.
Risks at work
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 173 people were killed in UK workplaces between 2011 and 2012, with a further 111,000 suffering workplace injuries. While there are strict laws in place to make work safer, some accidents will inevitably occur even when those laws are followed properly. This is the case not only in industrial environments where there are obvious risks, but even in shops and office buildings, where an unmarked wet floor can lead to a fall, or badly stacked shelves can lead to things dropping on people.
There are some hazards that no employer can prevent and in these cases the law requires that the dangers are properly signposted. Adequate training should also be given so that employees know how they can keep themselves safe. If you feel that you are regularly exposed to risks that you have not been trained to deal with, you can contact the HSE online for advice.
Whenever an accident occurs in the workplace, the law says that it has to be recorded in the company’s accident book. Even if nobody is hurt, keeping this log means that the company’s health and safety record can be checked and action can be taken to deal with any ongoing problems.
When somebody is injured at work, the accident should also be reported to the HSE. This is usually done via a form on their website, but telephone reporting is also possible if the injury is major, or results in death. Normally it’s the boss who makes this report but employees can also contact the HSE directly. You should contact them if you’ve been in a workplace accident and you suspect that your boss hasn’t reported it.
Long term risks to your health and safety at work
Not every workplace health and safety hazard involves just a one-off accident. Sometimes a badly designed workplace or work routine can place you at risk of slowly developing a disability or becoming ill. In the event of injury you will normally have three years in which to make a compensation claim but if you develop a long term problem such as repetitive strain injury or industrial deafness, where you can’t be sure when the problem began, the rules are more flexible.
If you develop a long term problem like this, you should get in touch with us as soon as possible and we will discuss your legal options with you. Often such problems in the workplace affect more than one person. If you can find colleagues facing the same issues who are willing to come forward, this can help to make the case for your own claim stronger.