If you have any type of accident whilst you’re at work then there are certain procedures that you need to follow; especially if you intend to make a claim against your employer.
Fortunately, much protection is afforded under certain legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This makes it compulsory for all employers to ensure the safety of anyone using their premises and even extends to people not directly employed by them, such as visitors, delivery staff, temporary and agency workers. Consequently, if you have an accident at work, then your employer should be able to provide you with relevant guidance on what you should do and any failure to comply with the Act can lead to very serious consequences indeed.
In this article, we take a closer look at what you should do if you have an accident at work and what you can expect from your employer in terms of guidance and support.
What type of accidents happens in the workplace?
Put simply, anything which causes you a physical injury can be considered as an “accident” – no matter how minor the injury might be.
Accident types will naturally tend to vary according to industry type, but according to the Health and Safety Executive, the most common cause of workplace accidents during 2016 was trips, slips and falls (29%) closely followed by lifting and handling incidents (22%). 
Of course, certain industry types naturally pose more risk than others, with “agricultural, forestry and fishing” being considered among the highest. However, that’s certainly not to suggest that accidents don’t happen across all industries, which invariably, they do.
What should I do if I have an accident at work?
The first thing you need to do if you have an accident at work is to seek immediate medical assistance for any injury you might have sustained.
When you first start your employment, it’s likely (and certainly advisable) that your employer will require you to attend an initial company induction. These can typically last from just a couple of hours right through to a number of days and should cover all manner of eventualities, including accidents at work.
Most employers will have a dedicated first-aider, and if this is the case, then you should consult him or her for relevant advice. If your injury is serious and requires further medical attention, then your employer must give you sufficient time off work to see either your own GP or your local A&E department. If they don’t, then you can report them to the Health and Safety Executive for failure to comply with basic legislation.
Whatever the nature of your injury, you should also ensure that details of it are entered into your employer’s accident book. If they don’t have one, then ensure that you put a description of your injuries in writing to an appropriate person, such as your line manager or HR department. This should include any specific information, such as details of the treatment you might have received, and you should ask your employer to acknowledge receipt of it – particularly if you think that you might need to make a claim.
As soon as reasonably practicable after the accident, you should also obtain as much information as you possibly can – such as photographs of the area where the accident occurred, details of any witnesses and any medical reports already obtained (although these are likely to be required by your employer’s insurer).
What if my accident is serious?
In more serious cases of personal injury then additional responsibilities will be placed on your employer under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (often referred to as “RIDDOR”).
Under RIDDOR, the Health and Safety Executive clearly states that injuries and all deaths (excluding suicides) must also be reported by an employer.  Any failure to comply with RIDDOR requirements will almost certainly lead to criminal proceedings being instigated.
What if I need to make a claim for my personal injury?
If you need to bring a claim against your employer for personal injury, then you’re certainly well advised to speak to a solicitor who specialises in this particular area of law.
Fortunately, most PI lawyers will be able to conduct your case on a “no win, no fee” basis. What this means is that they’ll be able to work on your claim without any initial payment up front. Instead, they’re covered by their own insurance policy known as “after the event insurance.” This means that if your claim isn’t successful, then you won’t be liable for their fees. It also means, of course, that your solicitor probably won’t accept your case unless he or she thinks you stand a good chance of winning it. This is due to the fact that, if your claim fails, they won’t get paid.
What might I be able to claim for?
In addition to your personal injury claim, you’ll also be able to claim for any other heads of damage you might have suffered as a result of the accident, such as loss of earnings, prescription charges, medical appointments and general out-of-pocket expenses.
Damages are classed as either being “general damages” (i.e. your personal injury claim itself) or “special damages” (i.e. any incidental losses). Your solicitor will be able to tell you more about these, and you should always keep copy receipts of anything you might have to pay for, such as medication, parking fees, petrol and so on.
As can be seen, there are certainly many elements to making a claim against an employer, and for this reason, it’s always advisable to have a good solicitor in your corner.
Always remember that, when making a claim, you’ll be required to provide actual evidence of how it occurred, what type of loss you’ve sustained and what (if any) future requirements you might have (such as ongoing medication or treatment etc.). Your solicitor will also look to prove how your employer could have helped to avoid the accident – for example, by putting warning signs near a wet floor, or coming off an area where work might have been taking place, thus resulting in your accident.
Whilst many potential claimants find the prospect of taking legal action against their employer quite daunting, it really needn’t be – and you should never be deterred from making a claim if you need to. It’s also illegal for your employer to intimidate or ‘bully’ you into not making a claim – for example, by saying you could ‘put them out of business’ or making you feel awkward whilst at work. Remember, all employers across the UK are legally obliged to carry adequate insurance so any payments subsequently made to you won’t be coming directly out of their pocket – that’s exactly what their insurance is there for.
 Health and Safety Executive – http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1617.pdf
 Health and Safety Executive – http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm