An estimated 555,000 people were injured in the workplace last year, according to the latest data from the Health & Safety Executive. Slips, trips and falls accounted for nearly a third of self-reported workplace accidents, closely followed by handling, lifting or carrying accidents at 21%.
Those of you who work in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industries are have a much higher chance of being injured in the workplace. Workers in the manufacturing, wholesale / retail trade and construction industries are also at a higher risk of suffering a workplace injury.
Compared to the most severe, life changing events some injuries may seem only minor, but if it affects your day-to-day life in any way then it is serious.
Here are seven immediate steps you’ll need to take if you’ve had an accident at work…
Put yourself first
The very first thing you should do is get out of the way of further harm and do what you can to ensure that other people are warned. After that, treat your injury as a priority. Every workplace should have a first-aider with a first aid kit who can treat employees on the spot before they go to hospital (if necessary). Make sure you or a colleague finds the first-aider, but if you don’t have one it’s important you stay in one place until you receive medical assistance. Even if you think your injuries are too minor for medical assistance then you should get checked out anyway. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! If you have a head injury then go to A&E immediately – you may have an “invisible” injury such as concussion. Ask a colleague to go with you to make sure you’re OK – your health and well-being is above everything else!
Report it in work accident book
Obviously, your wellbeing is the most important thing, so you may not get to report your injury in the accident book right away. But you should try and record your injury in the accident book as soon as possible either by making the entry yourself or asking for someone else to do it for you. If you are asked to sign the accident book, only do so if you are happy that it fairly records how and why the accident happened. Ask for a copy of the entry. Sometimes an employer may refuse to report the accident in the accident book, so it’s vital that you write to them via email or by hand so you can leave a paper trail. Ensure that you keep a copy of anything you send.
Tell your colleagues before your manager
If your colleagues weren’t there when you had your accident, make sure you tell them first. Unfortunately, some employers will try and convince some of the more vulnerable employees to deny the accident happened, though this is fairly uncommon. Another reason to tell your colleagues straight away is because you wouldn’t want them to have the same accident! You should then tell your manager about the accident as soon as you’ve told your colleagues.
If you are able to, once you have received first aid, take photos and even videos of the location of your accident, your injuries, medical paperwork, the accident book and anything else which comes to mind. If in doubt, record it! It’s also a good idea to screenshot emails, texts and any other digital evidence.
Remember to keep important paperwork such as prescriptions, receipts and so on. If you’re not able to record some of the evidence, then don’t be too shy to ask a reliable colleague to do this for you. They can also record any changes an employer might make to your workplace that could cover up any previously dangerous work environments. Get them to take photos of the changes and ask them to keep you up to date with other work changes so you won’t have to catch up as much when you return to work.
Keep a diary of your symptoms
At Birchall Blackburn Law we always keep in mind the following “Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t serious.” Make sure you keep a note of all your symptoms – no matter how trivial they seem. On a similar theme “ If in doubt – get checked out”. We often encounter clients who soldier on niggling problems hoping they will go away. Sometimes clients present with a back story of having beaten a terrible illness who then adopt a mindset that after that, their aches and pains can be endured. It is always best to consult your GP if you think an injury has not completely recovered.
Rob Jones, Associate Serious Injury Solicitor, says:
“Even a minor injury can develop into something more serious if it is not looked after properly and treated carefully. It is important not to dismiss on-going discomfort, pain or restricted movement based on the fact that the injury is small or doesn’t look that bad.”
“This is especially the case if you have an underlying condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. These conditions can impair your body’s immune system. A minor injury to your hand or foot can develop into a life threatening infection, such as sepsis, if it is not taken seriously.”
Keep track of any costs and losses incurred
Keep a record of all the costs you have to pay as a result of the injury – the more we know about your situation, the easier it is to present a claim which comprehensively covers your suffering and loss. This includes increased gas and electricity bills as a result of being at home more, transport costs to and from hospital, prescription costs, loss of income, future loss of income, care costs and more. The whole point of compensation isn’t to make money from your injury, it’s a way to help you get back to the quality of life you had before the accident.
Speak directly to a personal injury solicitor
Any reputable and expert solicitor will be pleased to discuss your legal rights at an early stage without charge or obligation to continue. Further they will be keen to formulate a strategy for any immediate financial or rehabilitation needs which you might have.
Be wary if a solicitor assures that that your case will be quick and simple – it could mean that the person you are speaking do does not recognise complexities. Likewise, do not be put off if the solicitor you speak to highlights potential difficulties because it is rare for a case to be completely straightforward and essential to take early steps to deal with possible problems. If you are unconvinced with the advice you are given, feel free to take a second opinion.
Our initial advice is free and we work on a “no win, no fee” basis. We highly recommend speaking directly to one of our Serious Injury Solicitors as soon as you can. We know it can be a difficult time trying to balance your life and your injury, but making the most of specialist legal advice can help you get a head-start on your rehabilitation programme. We can connect you with the right doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and case managers – it’s just a matter of getting in touch! We often take over cases which have been rejected or discontinued by other firms and would be glad to give a second opinion
If your injury has changed your day-to-day life in any way, then it is serious. Contact our Serious & Catastrophic Injury team for more advice and guidance on your situation: