Understanding Work Accidents – A Guide For Beginners
‘Had an accident at work? Then you may be entitled to compensation…’ most of us have probably seen those adverts on television and smiled a little whilst viewing actors tripping over strapping, slipping on wet floors or falling off ladders – but for those who have actually suffered an accident at work there is nothing for them to smile about.
A work accident, also known as an occupational accident, is a ‘discrete occurrence in the course of work which leads to physical or mental harm’. The phrase ‘in the course of work’ means during the course of work or at work (even if the accident happens off the company’s premises or even if it is caused by third parties) as long as the employee is engaged in an economic activity, or at work or carrying on the business of the employer.
Approximately one million people in the UK suffer some type of injury or accident in the workplace each year and it appears that many could easily be avoided and it is essential that that the employer provides a duty of care in order to protect his/her workers. An accident at work may range from those that appear to be initially minor up to industrial disasters and all should be reported as soon as possible according to Health and Safety regulations.
Many accidents at work are caused whilst lifting or carrying stock, equipment or tools which need to be moved from place to place. Correct training should be provided by the employer to avoid injuries or accidents which can affect the back, neck, arms or legs.
Falling from a height is the cause of the highest fatality rates in Europe so those workers employed as decorators, window cleaners, telephone engineers and construction workers need to be correctly trained and have secure equipment to avoid any accident at work.
Drivers can offer experience accidents at work so it is imperative they use safe vehicles and take regular breaks.
Slips and trips are fairly common causes of accidents at work and can result in strains, torn tendons/ muscles or fractured/ broken bones and once again these can often be avoided if the employer abides by the Health and Safety rules and ensures that all the staff are fully trained and made aware of potential hazards in the workplace.
Burns can be another result of an accident at work and can be caused by live electrical currents or through fire or by using hot kitchen equipment or boiling water.
Many office workers, drivers and IT employees spend hours a day sitting down whilst working so employers should ensure that their staff avoid neck/ back pain by providing well-designed work stations and making sure they take regular breaks. Repetitive Strain Injury can also be a cause of a work accident and those who may suffer can include typists, factory workers and drivers.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect any employee at any time leaving them emotional or highly stressed and is often a reaction to an event such as a driver being involved in a road traffic accident, a factory worker being exposed to hazardous substances, a bank or post office worker witnessing an armed robbery or a miner being a victim of a disaster.
Outlined above are just a few of the injuries that can occur in the workplace so one should always report accidents at work however minor they might seem at the time!