Employers have a legal and moral responsibility to protect their staff’s health, safety and welfare at work.
Accidents at work are an unfortunate (if mostly avoidable) reality. Government figures suggest employers reported more than 70,000 injuries under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) in 2016/17, although it’s likely that many more accidents go without being reported. Workplace accidents can often be avoided by employers taking their staff’s health and safety more seriously.
There are simple procedures employers can put in place to better protect their workers from harm – not doing so risks colleagues getting hurt and could see employers liable for the injuries suffered.
A guide to how managers should deal with accidents at work
Where a worker is injured or falls ill, the employer is potentially responsible. There are basic steps employers should take immediately to deal with the situation appropriately. Here, we outline some advice along with ways employers can better prevent the same thing from happening again.
Seek medical attention
It may sound obvious but the first thing an employer must do if an employee has an accident at work, or becomes unwell, is to ensure they quickly receive appropriate medical attention. Even if their injuries don’t appear serious, the employer should encourage them to get checked by a medical professional as soon as possible. An employer is expected to put the employee’s health and wellbeing first.
All accidents at work should be recorded, regardless of how minor or severe the injuries may seem. After an accident, an employer is expected to gather all of the facts available and log them in the workplace accident book. The employee may also want to report the accident. Certain accidents and ill-health at work must be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) if necessary.
Here is a list of accidents and illnesses that should be reported under RIDDOR:
– Dangerous situations
– Injuries that prevent workers from working for seven days or more
– Occupational diseases. For example, occupational cancer, a respiratory disease.
Take any workplace accident compensation claim seriously
If an employee makes a claim against the employer, it is expected that the employer cooperates with their legal service. Refusing to do so will only prolong the process and make the situation worse for the employee when they return to work. Failing to help with a claim also risks increasing the costs to the company.
Welcome the employee back
Employers should welcome workers returning after ill-health, regardless if they have made a claim against them. Making them feel uncomfortable will create a negative working environment and could ultimately mean the employee has a case for constructive dismissal.
Employers should know that it is illegal to terminate someone’s contract simply because they have made a claim against them for compensation. A return-to-work programme can be a good way to help ease workers back into their role – part of that programme could involve modifying their list of responsibilities and jobs to avoid risk of exacerbating any ongoing injury.
Prevent future accidents from happening
Employers are expected to learn from accidents occurred. It is essential that they act quickly to prevent workers experiencing future accidents or illnesses at work.
Managers are expected to:
– Carry out risk assessments to identify any health and safety hazards
– Put all necessary safety measures in place to prevent workers from getting injured or becoming unwell in the first place
– Ensure all staff receive full health and safety training and understand what they should do in an emergency
– Display warning signs to alert staff to potential dangers and hazards in the workplace.
Although Thompsons only act for injured people, and refuse to act for employers and insurers, they welcome sharing positive stories where employers have taken steps to improve health and safety in their workplace, so other managers can act appropriately if they find themselves in similar situations.
No one gains from an injury, and the key is for lessons to be learned.
Author Bio: As the UK’s leading personal injury law firm, Thompsons Solicitors has decades of experience in fighting and winning accident at work compensation cases for workers who have been injured in the workplace. They also campaign to improve awareness of health and safety best practice to make workplaces better, and safer, for everyone.