What to do if you have been injured at work
Tuesday 04 December 2012
Money worries, physical pain or discomfort, stress and concern for your future – these are just a few of the emotions you may experience if you’re injured and are unable to work as usual, either temporarily or for the longer-term.
In Victorian times, accidents in the workplace were common, as employers showed little regard for the safety and well-being of their workers. Thankfully, that has changed completely today. All employers are bound by government regulations to protect the health and safety on their staff while they are at work. The vast majority of employers take this responsibility very seriously, but sadly there remain some who don't. Despite major improvements in protecting the safety of employees, accidents on building sites, in warehouses as well as in offices, shops and schools do still occur.
What can you do if you are unlucky enough to have been injured at work? Who should you turn to for help? What steps do you need to take to record the incident?
Depending on what happened you might need urgent medical attention. Serious accidents at the workplace often involve dangerous or defective machinery or a fall from height. If this happens, don't move your limbs until an ambulance arrives on the scene. Your immediate health should be your first priority. If however, your illness was caused by ongoing environmental problems such as exposure to asbestos or loud noises which have left you deaf, then your first step should be to find out what your rights are.
Getting to know the law
The law is there to protect the rights of employees who have been injured – or, in the worst case scenario – killed at work. It can however be complicated and intimidating to anyone who is unfamiliar with it. If you have a union representative, ask them for advice, as they will have access to simplified documents which outline the law around the problem you have. The next step is to speak with a serious injury solicitor to see if they can negotiate a package to compensate you for the trauma and injury you have suffered.
Illnesses like mesothelioma (exposure to asbestos fibres), deafness, chronic stress, back injuries or loss of limb or sight are debilitating and in serious cases the employee is no longer in a position to carry out the same tasks they did before the accident. This can create massive financial and emotional strain on employees and their families, and can add to the physical problems the injury caused.
On the other hand, employees who have given perhaps decades of lifelong service to a company may find as they near retirement that they have been infected by poisonous fibres or rendered deaf after years of handling heavy machinery. Where once they looked forward to a blissful retirement, they now face living through old age with a serious health problem which was caused by a company's oversight or carelessness so – whether the former or latter – it’s important to seek out compensation to protect your livelihood.
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