Despite the fact that companies are taking workplace health and safety very seriously these days, it remains the case that accidents at work continue to result in personal injury claims, indicating that there is still more that employers could do to protect employees from situations in which they are injured. Slipping, or tripping and falling, is the most common type of physical injury sustained at work, followed by incidents involving electrical equipment or supplies. Injuries resulting from lifting work or manual handling of goods or equipment are also common.
The kinds of damage that can result from a workplace incident include, injuries to the head, neck and back; sprains or strains, often of wrists and ankles; and the injury that is caused when a specific task is repeatedly carried out over a period of time, known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
It is also possible for employees to suffer damage as a result of their working conditions, for example stress-related illnesses are common amongst employees who are bullied at work, being discriminated against or experiencing excessive work pressure.
Prevention is better than cure
Anyone who has ever experienced the pain associated with workplace injuries can testify to the fact that it would be better if it had never happened in the first place. Employers need to keep health and safety issues in mind, be vigilant and take all necessary steps to prevent employee and customer accidents – as successful personal injury claims are an unwanted and expensive outcome.
To help prevent physical accidents, employees should check that floor surfaces are non-slip, cleaned regularly and kept free from hazards; electrical equipment and supplies are tested regularly by a qualified professional and impaired items are replaced promptly, and sufficient breaks in routine are built into the working timetable for any employee who is in danger of RSI – office workers who use computers, as well as factory workers on a production line, are prime candidates for RSI.
To mitigate psychological damage, employers need to ensure they provide effective workplace communications, a supportive working environment and a good match between the requirements of the job and the skills of the employee. If there is any reason to suspect that appropriate protection is not being provided, it is worth bringing this to the attention of the employer.
When the worst happens
Employees are entitled to make a claim for personal injury should they suffer as a result of a workplace accident. It is the responsibility of every employer to put in place safety precautions for employees, and this includes employees who may drive a van or company car as part of their job. In these cases, vehicles supplied must be roadworthy and safe. There are specific health and safety laws and regulations in place to which employers must adhere, and any breach of these regulations can be assessed as negligence on the part of the employer. If an employee has highlighted a potential workplace risk, and the employer has not taken any action, this will increase the probability of the employer being held responsible, if an accident subsequently occurs.