Common hazards at work
Manhandling heavy goods can cause strains, sprains and slipped discs. In industries where shifting heavy items is part of the work, employers usually train workers how to lift properly and how to protect themselves from injury. Items too heavy for a person to lift should be marked with some kind of label or warning sticker.
Sitting too long at a work station and using unsuitable chairs can damage your spine. Your employer should provide a proper ergonomic chair, designed to support the body properly for that kind of work. Other hazards of sitting too long at a computer screen include eye-strain, and repetitive strain injury (RSI) from too much keyboard work. The tendons become strained, usually in the wrist.
A moving plant or vehicle can cause serious injury to the unwary warehouse operative. This is one of the commonest accidents in warehousing, the farming industry and on construction sites. If a handbrake has not been applied, or the fork-lift driver reverses too fast without checking what’s going on behind him, anyone who is in the way can be badly injured. It can be as severe as a pedestrian being hit by a car.
Broken limbs can result when a person falls over because a surface is dangerous or slippery. You might think people should be more careful, and mostly they are, but this kind of injury tends to happen when the victim is struggling to do something else, such as moving goods around, and they don’t see the hazard on the floor before them. Wet marble is as slippery as sheet ice, and even if warning boards are placed, the scene is still potentially dangerous.
What types of work accidents can I claim for?
An employee is entitled to claim compensation for any injury caused by an accident at work that resulted from negligence or deliberate action by a third party, in other words, if the accident was someone else’s fault. By definition, work accidents must have occurred at the place of work. Travel to and from work doesn’t count, but if you are travelling on behalf of your employer, then it may do and your solicitor will be able to advise.
How do I make a claim?
In order for claims for work accidents to be successful, the claimant must be able to prove the liability. All employers are required under British Law to hold an Employers’ Liability insurance policy, and the liability for your accident would be met under this policy.
What do I need to prove my case?
- Record the time, date and place of the incident and be able to show it was reported to the company and recorded in their accident book. Most firms have a nominated Safety Officer and you should report your accident to this person immediately.
- The medical report on your injuries resulting from the accident, together with interim reports for continuing treatment you may be having.
- The details of any witnesses, if there were any.
- Any notes, photographs and other details you or a colleague had recorded at the time.
- Further evidence, such as preceding reports or complaints of faulty or inadequate equipment or “accidents waiting to happen”, that the company may have failed to act on.