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The Health and Safety Executive estimate that over 31 million working days were lost last year due to work-related ill health or injuries. They estimate the total cost to Britain was £15bn – much of this being borne by the ill or injured individual themselves.
What to do if you have an accident at work
If you have an accident at work, report it to your employer as soon as possible – and make sure they record it in the accident book. If they don’t do this, or if there isn’t an accident book, write down details of the accident and send it to your boss (keeping a copy for yourself).
See a doctor even if your injury doesn’t seem serious – the doctor can record the medical details of your accident. This will be useful later on if you want to claim compensation from your boss or if you need to claim benefits.
If you think that conditions at your workplace are unsafe, talk to your trade union or contact the Health and Safety Executive. If you think you’re in serious and immediate danger at work, you have the right to protect yourself. This could mean leaving work until the immediate danger is fixed.
Pay when you can’t work – You should get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you need time off because of your injury. After 4 days off work sick you are normally entitled to £92.05 a week for up to 28 weeks (you need to earn an average of at least £116 a week and provide a doctor’s “fit note” after 7 days of absence). Your contract of employment might also say you can get extra sick pay. Depending on the seriousness of your injury, you might also be able to claim benefits, such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).
You can get more information on SSP by calling HMRC on 0300 200 3212 and on IIDB by calling DWP on 0800 121 8379 – or on both benefits at GOV.uk.
Going back to work after an injury – If you think you might be able to go back to work doing lighter duties, or fewer hours, speak to your employer and doctor. If your accident has caused a long term injury, your employer might have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to help you get back to work.
What about anxiety or depression?
If you are, or suspect that you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, you should bring it to your employer’s attention. Speak to your line manager, HR Officer or trade union representative. Outline what you feel the underlying reasons may be and suggest ways in which your working environment might be altered to address the problem.
Send a written summary of your discussion to your employer – and raise a grievance if your employer takes no effective steps to address the situation.
Seek medical assistance – Visit your GP at the earliest signs of symptoms. Your GP can sign you off work until you are better. During this period you will be able to claim SSP.
What must an employer do? – By law, a company owes employees a duty of care to protect against the risk of injury and illness. In addition the Equality Act 2010 outlines an employer’s duty to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities – which includes anxiety and depression.
You might want to claim compensation from your employer, although this can be complicated and take a long time. It’s best if you get legal advice from a solicitor – we at Citizens Advice can help you find a specialist solicitor. If you want to make a claim, it must be started within 3 years.