Employer Public Liability Claims

Accident at Work Employer Responsibility: A Comprehensive Guide

June 11, 2024
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In this guide, we aim to provide you with a thorough understanding of the claims process, emphasising the importance of securing fair compensation for workplace injuries. Whether you’re an employer seeking clarity on your obligations or an employee navigating the aftermath of an accident, this guide is designed to equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to protect your rights and achieve a just outcome. 


What are the responsibilities of employers in accidents at work? 

Employers have significant responsibilities when it comes to accidents at work. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) they are legally obligated to maintain a safe working environment for their employees, which includes providing appropriate training, safety equipment, and ensuring hazard-free conditions. Failure to meet these responsibilities can have serious consequences for employers, including potential legal action, fines, and damage to their reputation. By prioritising workplace safety and fulfilling their obligations, employers not only protect their employees from harm but also safeguard their own interests and maintain a positive work environment. 


Employers in the UK are legally required to have employers’ liability insurance to cover any claims made by employees who suffer injury or illness as a result of their work. This insurance ensures that employers can meet the costs of compensation if an employee is injured or becomes ill due to work-related activities. It is a legal requirement under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, and failure to have this insurance can result in significant penalties. Therefore, it is essential for employers to take out this insurance to comply with the law and protect themselves financially in case of workplace accidents or incidents. 


Providing a safe working environment 

HSE also state that ensuring a safe working environment is essential for employers to protect the health and well-being of their employees. This includes implementing specific measures such as:  


  • Maintaining a tidy workplace to prevent trip hazards 
  • Providing suitable workstations with ergonomic furniture to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries 
  • Ensuring employees are not exposed to hazardous substances without appropriate protective equipment and training.  


The British Safety Council say that employers must also regularly assess workplace risks, conduct safety inspections, and provide adequate training to employees on safety procedures. By taking these proactive measures, employers can create a safer work environment and reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries occurring. 


Offering appropriate training and equipment 

Offering appropriate training and equipment is a critical aspect of ensuring workplace safety. Employers have a duty to provide adequate training to their employees to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their jobs safely. This training should cover topics such as hazard identification, proper use of equipment, emergency procedures, and safety protocols relevant to their specific roles. Additionally, employers must supply appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries. This includes items such as helmets, goggles, gloves, and safety footwear, tailored to the hazards present in the workplace. By fulfilling their obligation to provide comprehensive training and necessary equipment, employers can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents at work and protect the well-being of their employees. 

Source: https://www.hse.gov.uk/index.htm  


What should my employer do if I have an accident at work? 

If you have an accident at work, your employer should take several important steps to ensure your well-being and address the situation effectively. According to HSE they must ensure your immediate safety by providing any necessary first aid or medical assistance. It’s crucial for them to promptly seek medical attention for you if required and ensure the incident is recorded in an accident book. 

Ensuring the employee’s safety and seeking medical attention 


Ensuring the safety of employees and promptly seeking medical attention when needed is a fundamental responsibility of employers. In the event of an accident or injury at work, employers must prioritise the well-being of their employees above all else. This includes taking immediate action to address any hazards or dangers present in the workplace to prevent further harm. Additionally, employers should facilitate access to necessary medical care for the injured employee, whether it involves providing on-site first aid or arranging transportation to a medical facility. 


Source: https://www.shponline.co.uk/  


Documenting the incident in the accident book 


Your employer should thoroughly document the incident, including gathering witness statements and taking photographs of the accident scene. Documenting the incident in the company’s accident book is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it provides a clear and accurate record of what occurred, including the date, time, location, and nature of the accident. This documentation is invaluable for investigating the incident and identifying any underlying causes or contributing factors. Furthermore, recording the accident details in the accident book ensures compliance with legal requirements, as employers are obligated to keep a record of workplace accidents under health and safety regulations. Additionally, this documentation can serve as crucial evidence in support of a potential compensation claim. By accurately documenting the incident, including any injuries sustained and the circumstances surrounding the accident, employees can strengthen their case when seeking compensation for damages incurred as a result of the accident. Therefore, it is essential for employers to promptly record all workplace accidents in the company’s accident book to protect the rights of their employees and facilitate a thorough investigation process. 


Source: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/accident-book.htm & The Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire 



Is an employer always liable for accidents in the workplace? 

Whether an employer is liable for accidents in the workplace depends on various factors and circumstances. In general, employers have a legal duty of care to provide a safe working environment for their employees, which includes taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries. As such, employers may be held liable for workplace accidents if they have failed to fulfil this duty, such as by neglecting to implement adequate safety measures or provide necessary training and equipment. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as cases where the employee’s own negligence or misconduct contributed to the accident. Additionally, third-party liability may come into play if the accident was caused by the actions of someone other than the employer or employee. Therefore, while employers are typically responsible for ensuring workplace safety, liability for accidents may vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. 


Establishing employer negligence 


Establishing employer negligence is essential for making a successful claim following a workplace accident. To do so, an employee must demonstrate that the employer failed to fulfil their duty of care, thus contributing to the accident. This involves proving that the employer’s actions or lack of actions directly led to the hazardous conditions or unsafe practices that caused the accident. Evidence such as inadequate training, lack of safety protocols, or failure to maintain equipment can support the claim of negligence. By establishing a clear link between the employer’s actions and the accident, employees can strengthen their case and seek compensation for damages incurred as a result of the employer’s negligence. 


Exceptions to employer liability 


Exceptions to employer liability exist in certain scenarios where the employer may not be held accountable for workplace accidents. One such scenario is when the accident results from the negligence or misconduct of the employee themselves. If an employee fails to adhere to safety procedures, disregards instructions, or engages in reckless behaviour that directly contributes to the accident, the employer may not be deemed liable. Additionally, if the accident occurs due to unforeseeable circumstances beyond the employer’s control, such as an act of nature or a third-party’s actions, the employer may also be exempt from liability. It’s important to note that these exceptions are reliant upon the specific circumstances of each case, and liability determinations may vary accordingly. 


Does an employer have to report all accidents? 


Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), employers are required to report certain types of workplace accidents and incidents. Failure to report these incidents can result in penalties and legal consequences for employers. However, not all accidents need to be reported under RIDDOR; only those that meet specific criteria outlined in the regulations must be reported. 


Source: https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/  


Reporting accidents under RIDDOR 

Reporting accidents under RIDDOR involves certain criteria that must be met. Employers are required to report accidents resulting in death, serious injuries, specific types of injuries such as fractures or amputations, as well as incidents like dangerous occurrences or cases of work-related diseases. The reporting process typically involves submitting a report online via the HSE website or by phone to the Incident Contact Centre. Reports must be made as soon as possible, usually within 10 days of the incident. 


Sources: https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/report.htm & https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/when-do-i-report.htm  


Consequences for failing to report accidents 

Failing to report accidents as required by law can have significant consequences for employers. Under RIDDOR, employers may face fines and penalties for non-compliance. The specific penalties vary depending on the severity of the violation and is determined by HSE. Additionally, failure to report accidents may lead to reputational damage for the organisation and erode trust among employees. Therefore, it’s essential for employers to understand their reporting obligations under RIDDOR and ensure timely and accurate reporting to avoid potential legal repercussions. 

Source: https://www.work-wallet.com/news/riddor-reporting-what-you-need-to-know/  


What do you do if you have had an accident at work? 

If you’ve had an accident at work, it’s essential to take certain steps to protect yourself and your rights. You should follow this process: 


  1. Seek medical attention for any injuries you’ve sustained, even if they seem minor. 
  2. Report the accident to your employer. 
  3. Seek legal advice from a specialist accidents at work solicitor who can assess your case and advise you on your rights and options for seeking compensation. 


Seek medical attention and report the accident 


Seeking medical attention and promptly reporting the accident are crucial steps for employees who have been injured at work. Prioritising your health and safety is important, so it’s essential to seek necessary medical care for any injuries sustained during the accident at work, even if they seem minor. Additionally, it’s important to report the accident to your employer as soon as possible to ensure it’s documented accurately. Notifying your employer allows them to take appropriate action to address any hazards or unsafe conditions in the workplace, helping to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. By seeking medical attention and reporting the accident promptly, employees can protect their well-being and ensure their employer is aware of the incident, facilitating any necessary support or compensation. 


Gather evidence and seek legal advice 


Gathering evidence and seeking legal advice are crucial steps for employees who have been involved in a work accident. It’s important to collect relevant evidence, such as witness statements and photographs of the accident scene, as soon as possible after the incident. This documentation can be invaluable in supporting your claim and establishing liability. Additionally, consulting with experienced work accident solicitors is essential to assess the viability of your claim and understand your rights and options for seeking compensation. A solicitor can provide expert guidance throughout the claims process, negotiate with the liable party on your behalf, and represent you in court if necessary. By gathering evidence and seeking legal advice promptly, employees can ensure they receive the support and compensation they deserve for their injuries and any financial losses incurred as a result of the accident. 

Making a claim for accidents at work with Fletchers Solicitors 

Making a claim for accidents at work with Fletchers Solicitors ensures you have expert support every step of the way. Understanding employer responsibilities and employee rights is crucial following a workplace accident, and our team is here to guide you through the process. We emphasise the importance of seeking legal advice to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and any financial losses. With our experienced solicitors by your side, you can trust that your case will be handled with care and expertise, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for expert legal support. 

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