No one likes dealing with accidents at work. However, Covid-19 has changed the face of what it means to have a work accident in general.
On the 13th April 2020, the UK announced that it was going to begin easing down some of its lock down regulations. That meant workers who could not work from home could return to work. Currently, there have been over 280,000 cases of Covid-19 in the UK. That’s why there is currently so much debate about whether or not it truly is safe to return to the workplace. Some think it is far too soon, others believe that the first wave has passed, however it is entirely up to you about whether or not you think you can take the risk of working in a public environment.
Your business has a legal obligation to you (aka. a duty of care) to keep you safe. No matter what sort of business you work in, they must continue to uphold government hygiene regulations. You need to understand your rights, but more importantly you need to know how you can personally minimize the bio-hazards you may encounter on your way to and in the work place. If not, you have a higher chance of catching Covid-19 than someone who is currently working remotely.
Read on to learn how you can keep yourself safe. If you do end up getting ill because of your work place’s negligence, please contact Gowing Law Solicitors. We can help you make a claim for a work accident compensation or even represent you at an employer tribunal. All of this can be done remotely.
Honestly, one of the safest ways that you can avoid the virus is to work from home. If you have the chance to do this then take up this opportunity. It can truly help you avoid any accidents at work. Over 51% of the global population have internet, therefore if you think that a work environment is unsafe, it is your right to ask for changes or to work outside of it.
Not only will it protect you from the transmission of Covid-19 but you may find that it helps you create a more engaging work space that increases your productivity. For instance, if you are easily distracted by noise pollution in your work environment, your workspace at home can provide a peaceful place that you can retreat to.
Speak to your employer about continuing to work from home if you are suffering Covid-19 related anxiety. You may be a vulnerable person or simply don’t want to take the risk for the sake of your loved-ones, family and the people you live with. Any good employer will understand your worries and try to work with you to create a compromise where you can feel safe. This may mean that you work from home indefinitely or come into the office only a few times a week. You can also recommend that they look at the free remote safety courses that have been released by the government. They can help you manage stress and create an employee safety plan.
Keep in contact with your employer and stay inside as much as possible in a comfortable work environment. This will help you get the most out of working remotely.
Working Onsite: Lowering the Risk from accidents at work
If you have no choice but to go back to work, as you are an essential worker or perhaps your employer has put in safety regulations that include social distancing, you may be feeling scared about taking this risk. That’s why it’s essential to keep safe when you are:
- Commuting to work.
- Working in the office environment.
- Using work office supplies.
- Getting lunch/ using the kitchen.
- Using the work bathroom.
- Interacting with other employees/colleagues.
- Commuting home.
You need to think about which areas in particular are going to be hot spots for germs. It is also wise to consider which of your colleagues may potentially be an asymptomatic spreader. Create a mental (or physical) plan that can remind you of how you can prevent the spread of Covid-19 and what biological hazards could harm you. This could be different depending on your work environment. For instance, construction workers may have different obstacles to office workers. Consider your environment carefully and what you can do to lower the rate of transmission.
Keeping safe on your commute to work
One of your biggest challenges is going to be actually getting to work. As the country has currently been in lock down for over 10 weeks, it is likely that many people have not been considering their commute. This includes using transport safely on the road, and claiming compensation if an accident happens. Naturally, to help with social distancing, some changes have needed to be made to the road, social transport and the amount of people who can go on transport at a time.
The first thing you need to consider, as you go on your commute to work, is what sort of vehicle you are going to use. If you are using a car then you do not need to worry about interacting with other people. However, you may want to avoid giving lifts or asking for rides from different people. If it is your car, make sure to keep sanitation products in the car with you. This includes hand gel, travel sized soap and napkins. You may also want to keep a mask in the car with you for you to wear when you leave the vehicle.
Remember, you will want to wash/ sterilize your hands before and after you touch the steering wheel. This will mean that you will not transfer germs to other environments. It will also help you avoid bio-specific accidents at works
Not all of us can be lucky enough to own our own cars. Instead, many commute to their place of work on either a bus or a train (i.e. The London Tube). According to Lloyds Banking Group, British workers actually spend around 492 days of their lives commuting to their work place. 33% of the people interviewed even said that the normal commute is usually crowded. In terms of catching the Corona Virus, this is where you can be most vulnerable.
A public commute can be a hazard in itself. You are mingling with a range of different people who come from all over your town, different cities or even from all over the country. Being in close proximity means that you have a higher chance of catching or spreading the virus. Remember to stick to social distancing rules if you can, or maybe ask if you can change up your working hours in order to avoid rush hour.
From the 15th of June, it will be mandatory to wear a mask on public transport. Make sure to combine this with hand gel when you get on and off your commute transport. That way you can avoid spreading germs you may have caught on the commute to work, especially as you are avoiding bringing germs into your work place.
Recently, the UK government has advised that if people are going to commute to work, it should be through greener vehicles. This includes walking and cycling. If you are going to try and do this, one of the most important things you need to do is plot out your route. That way you will know precisely which the safest areas are to travel around your city. You can also time how long it will take you to get to work and back, as well as how you can avoid other people.
However, keep in mind you may need to think of the other dangers that the road could present, whether you are a bike or a motorcycle:
- Judge the weather to ensure no accidents can happen due to slippery surfaces.
- Watch out for other vehicles on the road, especially if there are aggressive drivers.
- Watch out for unseen vehicles during busy commuting hours.
- Wear appropriate cycling protective gear, like helmets, gloves and cycling shoes.
- Make sure your bike has received full maintenance and can work (i.e. make sure its breaks are not broken or you have a flat tyre).
- Oil your chains and keep them clean to ensure no problems happen whilst you are on the road.
- Make sure there are no hazards on the road that cause you to fall from your bike
If you do end up in an accident due to a cycling accident, Gowing Law Solicitors can help you claim compensation if the accident was not your fault. You do not have to go through a RTA case alone. Instead, you can have the support of a trained solicitor.
In the Work Place
Unfortunately, the safety hazards do not stop when you arrive in the office. In fact, this is where social distancing may become more of a challenge. This is because you are going to spend most of your time trying to figure out ways of staying away from colleagues in your office. You can meet up with groups of up to 6 people as long as you keep your distance from them. However, if you do not want to risk this then you can tell your manager that you do not feel safe in your office. This could prevent accidents at work
If your workspace does not follow these regulations, and you do end up getting ill, then you have every reason to file an employer negligence complaint against them. After all, they have not taken the appropriate steps to ensure your safety. In fact, they have put you in harm’s way by asking you to come into an unsafe environment. That means accidents at work are practically imminent
The Three Categories of Hazards in the Work Place
- Shared Work spaces, surfaces and equipment
- Small work areas
Here is what you need to watch out for in relation to these different problems in the workspace.
Keep hygienic when you are in the office and remember to wash your hands whenever you touch a different surface or piece of equipment. You may also want to consider washing your hands if you are going to eat or drink anything. That way you can avoid picking up germs on your food or beverages. This may sound paranoid, but it is the best way to ensure that all social distancing practices can be maintained. That way you can avoid any type of accidents at work.
For more information on the best practices to avoid bio-hazards in the work office, check out the UK Government’s latest advice through their website. It contains different details on various work environments.
What to do if you get ill as a result of a hazardous work environment/accidents at work?
There is only so much you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19. If your work environment does not employ the latest sanitation advice from the government then it should not be open for business. They have breached their duty of care for you and your fellow employees, therefore you could potentially claim compensation from them, either as a personal injury or in an employment tribunal.
Just remember, if you have symptoms you will need to self-isolate for 14 days. The same will be true for anyone who lives with you.
Gowing Law Solicitors can represent you and get you compensation!
Getting Covid-19 at work could be classified as either employer negligence or an accident at work claim. You may feel a little worried about claiming compensation from your company. However, if you have the appropriate evidence to prove that their hazardous environment was the cause of your illness, you could be due compensation.
Before you leave your work space, make sure to take any notes or photographic evidence of any accidents at work. That way you can prove your company is not providing a safe environment. Working with a trained personal injury solicitor can help you figure out whether or not you could be owed anything. They work on a “no win, no fee” basis and also offer free advice and consultations. That way, you will always know what sort of claim you could make and what you could be entitled to.
Contact Gowing Law Solicitors now for more information about Covid-19 and your rights if you get ill. You need to be prepared for anything and we can help you remotely! Please call 0800 041 8350, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use our direct messaging system on our contact page.
We look forward to working with you soon to get you the compensation that you deserve. Just let us know the types of accidents at work you have experienced and we will help you.
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