We’ve all heard someone utter that fateful phrase, ‘Accidents happen’, usually after someone’s spilt a cup of coffee, or tripped over their own ankles. Here at AYB Law, we don’t just deal with MIB claims and hit and run compensation – we’re also specialists in accident at work claims.
Having an accident at work can mean, at best, a sore knee or a bruised lip. At worst, though, it can severely impact on a person’s career and their health. In fact, a serious accident has the potential to ruin someone’s life, often through no fault of their own.
So, as solicitors who understand just how debilitating having an accident at work can be, we thought we’d take a look at the facts and statistics surrounding such occurrences.
All employers have a legal obligation to carry out proper risk assessments for the workplace as a whole. They’re responsible for ensuring that any potential hazards are dealt with, such as loose flooring tiles or wires that might cause unnecessary slips and trips. Giving employees proper health and safety training so they can carry out their roles safely, is also a factor, as well as providing adequate protective clothing for the job. It also means employers ensure that there are enough first-aiders who are properly trained.
Of course, it’s not solely down to employers. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employees also have ‘a duty to take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by [the employee’s] actions at work.’ So all that training your employer has given you must be adhered to, and reporting any injuries, or any concerns you have regarding risks to health and safety.
Facts and Stats
So with laws and regulations in place, just how many accidents in the workplace occur each year? Well, the HSE’s latest figures are from 2013-2014, and give us a fair overview of everything from slips and trips, to handling accidents.
How many accidents, in total, do you suppose there was at work during that time-frame? 6? 6,000? Try 629,000. Yep, 629,000 employees reported having an accident at work, with 148,000 of those leading to more than a week’s absence from work. Even with all those laws in place, that’s still a stunningly high number. And saying ‘accidents happen’ to those poor employees probably isn’t going to make them feel better. Of that number, slips and trips – which you’d imagine were easily assessed for risk and sorted – was the most common form of accident, causing 21,585 injuries.
The cost to business for poor health and safety standards is also dramatically high. Approximately 4.7 million work days are lost due to workplace injuries, and the total cost to businesses stands at an estimated £800 million a year.
Enforcing the Law
Poor implementation of health and safety practices certainly don’t go unnoticed. There are numerous agencies who enforce health and safety across the UK. Of course, the HSE leads the charge, but also the local authorities of England and Wales, as well as Scotland’s Procurator Fiscal also try to ensure the maximum safety for employees, while punishing those who wilfully disregard the law.
Not all lead to a court case and prosecution – enforcement notices are often sent to employees, a warning shot, if you will, to make sure the company knuckles down with its health and safety obligations. In the UK, 13,790 of these were sent out.
But what of those cases which do end up in court? The HSE had phenomenal success, with 551 prosecutions throughout England and Wales. 35 cases were prosecuted by the Procurator Fiscal, and in England and Wales, local authorities were responsible for 88 prosecuted cases.
None of this means employers should rest on their laurels – ensuring the health and safety of their employees means constant vigilance. But if you have suffered an injury at work, then we’re on hand to help. Simply contact us on 0800 0443 495 and our experienced and professional team of experts will be on hand to offer sound advice and assist with your enquiries.