Guest Blogger

By Helen Townley, Solicitor, Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors

Members of staff across all industries are worried about reporting injuries sustained in the workplace to their employer for fear of making them angry. Research carried out by Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors revealed that more than a third (38%) of people who had been involved in an accident did not report it because they were concerned they would be met with anger, or were concerned that nothing would be done as a result.

Our research, which questioned 650 people about their experiences, highlighted a major issue facing many employees who may feel compelled to keep their injuries to themselves for fear of repercussions.

There should never be a stigma attached to the reporting of incidents sustained in the line of duty, and it is important that employers act now to eradicate this from their culture.

The survey also highlighted messy workstations and slipping hazards as the most commonly seen hazards in workplaces across all industries. Some 24% of respondents had witnessed dangerously messy workstations in their organisation, while 27% had come into contact with slipping hazards.

The industries where the highest percentage of respondents said their workplace was either “unsafe” or “very unsafe” were Environment & Agriculture (27%), Energy and Utilities (22%), Engineering & Manufacturing (19%) and Recruitment & HR (16%).

An employer’s duty of care

All employers have a duty of care to members of staff, which means that if any incidents take place, it is their responsibility to deal with it correctly.

Legally, employers must adhere to all health and safety and employment law, along with the common law duty of care. It is also important that they abide by an ethical duty not to cause, or fail to prevent, physical or psychological injury.

It is an employer’s duty to fulfil their responsibilities with regard to personal injury and negligence claims. Requirements that must be upheld by employers include:

  • Having clearly defined job roles and undertaking risk assessments
  • Ensuring the work environment is safe
  • Ensuring members of staff do not work excessive hours
  • Providing adequate training and feedback on performance
  • Providing areas for rest and relaxation
  • Protecting staff from discrimination
  • Consulting staff on issues that concern them

It is determined that an employer is in breach of this duty of care if they fail to do anything that was reasonable within the circumstances to keep an employee safe while carrying out their job.

Employees also have responsibilities when it comes to their health and wellbeing in the workplace, and are entitled to refuse to carry out work that is not safe.

It is an employer’s duty to keep their workforce safe, and this means if any incidents take place, it is their responsibility to ensure that it is dealt with correctly. Employers have insurance policies in place to prepare for eventualities such as these, which are used for any compensation payments, so employees need not worry about the financial side of making a claim for compensation.

Ensuring employees feel comfortable to report workplace injuries is essential for business owners, and something that should be encouraged across all organisations. Openness and communication between workers and senior staff is just one way that this can be promoted across the board.

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