Accidents and injuries are unfortunately a part of the fabric of everyday life, from spilled milk to vehicular accidents. That said, when an injury is caused by accident in the workplace, there’s no excuse not to take action to resolve the situation and prevent repeated incidents.

Whether you’re a worker or employer, in any sector from art to teaching to IT to construction, it pays to know your rights and responsibilities regarding your working environment’s health and safety hazards – and what to do if you do have an accident or injury at work.

Don't ignore safety signs - funny workplace safety sign
photo credit: Kolya Miller / Flickr

Creating a Health & Safety Risk Assessment

All workplace employers – even if you are self-employed – have a legal and moral responsibility to create and maintain a safe working environment at all times. This includes completing Risk Assessments, a process which includes identifying potential health hazards and taking steps or establishing usage protocol to minimise these risks, for example providing Personal Protective Equipment to wear when handling harsh chemicals or working with heat in a kitchen. The UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive website has guides on creating a Risk Assessment for your workplace.

While it is an employer’s responsibility to establish risk minimisation procedures and inform their employees, it is also an employee’s responsibility to follow these guidelines to prevent injuries to themselves and their colleagues.

Taking Action and Knowing Your Rights – Employees

Upon your induction into work, and every year subsequently, your employer should provide H&S training and you will usually be asked to read a booklet naming risks in your workplace, as well as being taught the correct emergency measures. If you have an accident or injury, you must inform your employer immediately so they can log the incident, and you should immediately seek any necessary medical treatment. If this injury risk was not accounted for in your workplace’s risk assessment, or if your employer is negligent or hostile towards you because of this, you are entitled to seek legal help from a solicitor and apply to claim compensation.

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau advises that there is a limit of three years from the accident to when you can make a legal claim – so do so as soon as you are able.

Safety first reminder
photo credit: Craig Bennett / Flickr

Taking Action and Knowing Your Responsibilities – Employers

The HSE handles a huge range of complaints every year, so ensure your Health & Safety policy covers a variety of occurrences, including potential mental health issues. Any incidents should be recorded in a log book, and subsequent measures should be taken to prevent further accidents of this kind. If the accident was a result of negligence (not taking measures to prevent accidents), your employee has a right to claim compensation.

If an employee is injured at work is in your interests to apologise to your employee and ensure you support them in their recovery to return to work. This can include a variety of procedures, from granting paid sick leave to sourcing equipment to help them work while in recovery.

Takeaway

It is only logical that knowing your responsibilities, whether you are an employee or an employer, can help eliminating future confusion and miscommunication should any workplace-related incidents happen. Take extra effort to learn more about your responsibilities, and use this article as your stepping stone in your endeavour.