Surprisingly many people sustain personal injury in an office, and if it is a case where the employer has been negligent, they will be entitled to claim compensation for their injuries.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, a staggering 27 million working days were lost due to work related illness and work injuries in 2012. Though many of these will happen, on building sites and more obviously dangerous areas, the office is responsible for a great number of accidents.
Examples where you can claim compensation for an accident in an office are:
- Spillages can be a danger for slips, especially around kitchen areas
- Loose wires, bag handles, clutter and uneven flooring can cause trips in the office
- Improper equipment can injure the body if used for too long. This includes back injury and repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Lifting heavy objects can cause damage to the back, or legs when not handled correctly
- Asbestos and other harmful chemicals which can poison employees and cause damage either immediately or in the long term
- Abuse in the workplace from colleagues which can cause emotional damage such as stress and depression
- Falling objects such as broken light fixtures, and poorly stacked shelves and cabinets.
As is evident from the list, the responsibility is often the employer’s to ensure safety in the workplace. Every employer owes a duty of care to every single one of their employees, and therefore if an employer fails to ensure that proper risks assessments have been carried out, the workplace is a safe environment to work in, and people have adequate clothing then they could be held liable for an employee who becomes injured as a consequence.
That said, the employee also needs to seek out potential hazards, and report them if they are not immediately solvable. The rate of self reported injuries per hundred thousand has almost halved in the last ten years (down from 3770 in 2001/02 to 2090 in 2011/12). This shows that these accidents and injuries are preventable and can be combated by proper procedure and a fair amount of common sense.
Trips and slips
Untidiness in the office is one of the most frequent culprits when it comes to accidents. Spillages that have not been cleaned or sign posted can cause slips and trips.
This occurs most commonly in kitchen and bathroom areas where flooring is often laminated or tiled. Trips are cause by unneeded clutter: loose cables, boxes and files, damaged carpets etc. To avoid this, the workplace should be kept clean and tidy to avoid injury.
Falls from Height
The office is rarely an area for working at height. However, this makes it all the more important when it happens. While a building site would be expected to provide safe ladders, an office may not be as prepared. Using a chair or desk to reach up high is not recommended.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Repetitive Strain Injury describes any pain caused by doing a task for too long, or too often in an awkward position. An example of this is RSI wrist pain, often caused by using a keyboard or mouse for too long.
To avoid this, it is recommended that you take regular breaks, where you can leave the computer for a short time. This can also improve posture and the general fluidity of the body, as well as making it easier to focus when you are working, avoiding stress and exhaustion. Your employer should make regular risk assessments of your work station.
Risk assessments are very useful tools for preventing avoidable injuries. A risk assessment is taken out when any event or procedure that could cause an accident takes place. It is also required for employees to examine if training or equipment is needed.
Electricity Shocks & Burns
Electrical equipment can be very dangerous in the office if not used correctly. Training should be provided for most appliances, as even the simplest of tasks can create an accident and cause injury if something goes wrong. Some appliances can get very hot and cause burns, while others may cause shocks if water is spilt.
The UK has the longest working hours in Europe and many put our high levels of stress down to this. It is important to take breaks from work and to not let it take control. Stressful jobs rarely lead to a claim unless the employer is at fault for excessive stress but it may be worth finding out.
Another way of feeling the stress of work is through abuse from colleagues. Discrimination – for sex, sexuality, race, religion or anything else – and bullying can sometimes be dealt with poorly by employers (or they may even be responsible for it themselves). This can lead to stress and depression which are difficult and frustrating to cope with. Stress is a personal injury.
Asbestos-related diseases are still a major problem in offices where employees are exposed to fibres. This can cause terrible illness years after exposure so it is important to be aware, as an employer, or an employee.
How to Claim Compensation
Accidents in the office can take a number of forms as we have mentioned above. Although an accident may be a colleague’s fault, a spillage, for instance, the blame ultimately rests with the employer.
If you or someone you know has sustained an injury as a result of an accident in the workplace, and you believe it is as a result of your employer than you may be entitled to make a claim for your injury.
Please call us and talk to one of our experienced claims advisers who will be able to assess your claim, and give you an immediate decision as to whether or not you can make a claim for personal injury.
Our service is completely free, and confidential with no obligation to pursue a claim if all you want to do is make an enquiry. Alternatively please complete our online claim form and one of our claims advisers will call you.