Workplace accidents: Know your rights to make sure you’re safe on the job
With more than a million people suffering from work-related illnesses or injuries last year, it’s important to know your rights
- 12:18, 9 SEP 2013
- Updated 14:58, 7 DEC 2015
While you are at work, your employer has a legal duty to protect you and tell you about health and safety issues that affect you.
They also have a legal responsibility to report certain accidents and incidents, pay you sick pay and give you time off because of an accident at work should you need it.
The most recent HSE figures, for the period covering 2011/12, showed:
- 1.1 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
- 172 workers killed at work
- 111 000 other injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR
- 212 000 over-3-day absence injuries occurred (LFS)
- 27 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
- Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost society an estimated 13.4 billion in 2010/11
Reporting an accident at work
Any injury at work, including minor injuries, should be recorded in your employer’s ‘accident book’.
All employers (except for very small companies) must keep an accident book.
An accident book is mainly for the benefit of employees, as it provides a useful record of what happened in case you need time off work or need to claim compensation later on, but recording accidents also helps your employer see what’s going wrong and take action to stop accidents in future.
Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations (known as RIDDOR), your employer has a duty to report work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous incidents to Health and Safety department at your local authority.
These include deaths, major injuries (for example a broken bones), dangerous incidents (like a scaffolding collapse), people overcome by gas and any other injury that stops an employee from doing their normal work for more than three days.
Although the reporting must be done by your employer, if you were involved in an incident, it’s a good idea to make sure that it has been reported correctly.
Who is responsible?
As well as reporting work-related accidents and illnesses, your employer also has an obligation to to carry out a risk assessment and do what’s needed to take care of the health and safety of employees and visitors.
This includes deciding how many first aiders are needed and what kind of first aid equipment and facilities should be provided.
First aiders have no statutory right to extra pay, but some employers do offer this. Employees must also take reasonable care over their own health and safety.
In most cases, if you need time off because of an accident at work, you’ll only have the right to Statutory Sick Pay. Your employer may have a scheme for paying more for time off caused by accidents, or may decide to pay extra depending on what has happened.
If you’ve been injured in an accident at work and you think your employer is at fault, you may want to make a personal injury claim . Any claim must be made within three years of the date of the accident and you’ll normally need a lawyer to represent you. If you belong to a trade union, you may be able to use their legal services. Otherwise, you should speak to a specialist personal injury lawyer.
Some lawyers will take your case on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. By law, your employer must be insured to cover a successful claim and should place a certificate with the name of their employer’s insurance company where it can be seen at work. If not, they must give you the details if you need them.
What to do if you have an accident at work?
- make sure you record any injury in the ‘accident book’
- if need be, make sure your employer has reported it to the Health and Safety Executive
- check your contract or written statement of employment for information about sick or accident pay
- if there’s a dispute, try to sort it out with your employer
Can you make a claim?
Finding out if you could make a claim is simple, just take the 30 second test below or visit the