Employers have a duty to provide employees with a safe workplace and with suitable and appropriate equipment. Every workplace should have a risk assessment which will detail reasonable steps for the employer to undertake which reduces the risk of accidents and injuries happening. Regular training should also be provided to employees to ensure health and safety is taken into account and the risk of accidents at work is reduced so people are aware of procedures and also mitigating risk where possible.
That said personal injuries in the workplace are very common. They can happen in all industries and range in severity. To give some examples of what would be the case we have here is an idea of the type of accidents that can happen:
- Trips and slips – This can involve unsafe and dangerous flooring to spillages/liquids on the floor that have not been cleaned up. Other examples include tripping on frayed carpets and unsafe areas on a construction site.
- Hit by something – Such as being hit by ladders or shelves, scaffolding collapsing and ceilings collapsing causing injury.
- Accidents with machinery – Usually factory type work involving heavy machinery with unsafe procedures and lack of protective clothing. Examples include fingers/hands or clothing being caught up in equipment.
- Crush injuries – Involving crushed body parts such as hands, feet, legs, arms, torso and pelvis.
- Electrical accidents – Such as electric shock and electrical burns.
- Fatal injuries – Can involve falling from a height, struck by a moving vehicle/object, trapped by something collapsing, and using heavy machinery.
- Exposure to a harmful substance – Such as gas or chemicals causing burns, skin irritations, lung disease and cancer.
- Repetitive movement – Such as typing, using computers and vibrating tools causing a repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Lifting and carrying – Regularly lifting, carrying and pushing heavy items at work can cause neck and back pains.
- Violent acts – Such as attacks involving physical violence, abuse, assault, verbal abuse and threats.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are many different workplace accidents that cause injuries.
Accidents at work can cause wide ranging injuries from muscle strain and soft tissue injuries to very serious fractures, crush type injuries and fatal injuries. Psychological injuries can also be caused such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders.
In one of our earlier blogs this year we spoke about what to do if you are involved in an accident at work. This should be reported as soon as possible to your employer. This should be recorded in an accident report book. It is also sensible to make your own record of the accident noting the date, time, what happened and who was present. Depending on the severity of your injury, attend A&E or see your GP. If your injury persists you should continue to see your GP so that you are kept under review and undergo any necessary treatments to aid in your recovery. Your attendance at hospital and GP will be noted in your medical records and this provides evidence if you later decide that you wish to pursue a personal injury claim.
If there is any investigation at work or from the HSE you should co-operate with them. This will assist in identifying what went wrong and look at what actions that can be done in order to prevent another accident from happening again.
If you wish to pursue a personal injury claim, you have 3 years from the date of accident in which to make a claim. Starting a claim sooner rather than later may be beneficial as recommended treatment(s) can be arranged to assist in recovery and interim payments can be arranged if there are financial difficulties.