Creating a safe work environment can be quite difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK has been in lockdown for over 14 weeks now. Many of us have been asked to work remotely, some have been furloughed and others have been unfairly dismissed. That’s why it can be quite unnerving when your employer finally asks you to return to your work place. You have not been in contact with many people since the start of lockdown, so how will you now be able to handle creating a social bubble with your work colleagues? Worse still, what if you become ill with Covid-19? It is important to think these things through before you step out into the public work sphere again. That way you can avoid having work accidents in the future.
It is your employer’s responsibility towards you and your fellow colleagues to provide you with a safe work environment. That is their duty of care. If this is breached and you get hurt, or fall ill, then they could owe you compensation. This blog will dive into work accidents and what it means to have a safe work environment during this pandemic. That way you will know how to protect yourself, even if your work does not put in the appropriate procedures to help you.
What is a work accident?
Now, you may be wondering why this is the first thing that we would bring up in this blog. Well, it’s a lot more important than you may originally believe. If you have been brought into an unsafe environment, it’s crucial that you know what would count as a work accident due to your employer’s negligence. Should you be at fault for the incident, that means that you won’t be able to claim compensation.
It does not matter what the accident was, after all different work environments offer different hazards. A construction site is different to a retail store. However, a manager/employer still has a duty of responsibility towards those who are in their employment. When you go back to the office make sure to have a look at what changes have been made to the environment, if no safety regulations have been implemented then you have the right to complain. This can show that you tried to alert management to the danger but were ignored.
Can’t I keep working from home?
This is one of the safest options right now. According to government advice, if you can work remotely then you should be doing that. This could be through a VPN connection, a work laptop or even through face-to-face video calls. If you can prove that you can work at home then you should be doing it. That way you can lower the spread of Covid-19 and still continue to be a productive member of your work team.
If your employers are insisting that you should go back to your work environment, they should give you at least two days to prepare. This should give you enough time to write to them if you want to complain about this action. Make sure to state the reasons why you do not yet think it is safe to return to the workplace. A good employer should be willing to offer you a compromise to ensure your safety.
How do I keep safe in my work environment?
Now, for the legal community, Covid-19 is an opportunity to modernise our practices to create more flexible environments for lawyers. However, the same might not be said about your own work place. Some employers are taking the changes seriously, whilst others may be acting a little too lax. Take a look at the examples below to see how your employer should be creating a safe work space for you to feel secure whilst doing your job.
The main aim for any business right now is to lower the rate of Covid-19 transmission. This is through avoiding contact, shielding around work spaces, and staggering shifts. When you return to the office, your manager must have a safety regime put in place to ensure the health of any worker on the premises. For instance, if you work in retail, you may have a one way system for customers and workers or you may have to talk through walkie-talkies to avoid face-to-face contact. If you do not have this meeting, then you can ask your manager to email you a list of the latest safety updates. Should there be no new safety regulations for your work place, this could give you a reason to complain, or potentially ask to work remotely.
What should I do if I have a work accident?
As you can see from the video, it is possible to claim for more than just physical injuries. If you have suffered mental trauma, financial losses or any sort of damages whilst at work, you could be owed compensation. This could be the same for catching Covid-19. However, the main difficulty you have is proving that you caught it whilst at your work place.
Basically, you have to show that the unsanitary conditions led to you getting sick. Clearly, this is going to be a complicated case that many people will try to claim for in the future. Therefore, if you want to do this then it is recommended that you speak to your solicitor first. Remember, this is practically a brand new type of case. You will need to approach it carefully, especially if you wish to claim compensation.
With that said, the first thing you need to do is document your injury. Inform your managers of your accident and ask them to write it down in their accident book.
You may also want to consider collecting evidence that can be used when your case goes to trial. This could include :
- Diary Entries
- Letters of Grievance
- Medical Documentation
- Witness Statements
Take a look at our interview with Elaine, our operations direction, for more information about evidence:
An Employer’s Duty of Protection
If you have been hurt due to negligence in the work place, it is important that you show that it was your employer’s fault. Your employer owes you a duty of care. That means that you should feel safe in your work environment. If you do not feel safe then you need to ask for changes to be made in order to help you return to work.
Should you not have a safe work environment, and have suffered an accident whilst working, this means your employer was negligent, in other words it was their fault. Keep an eye out for the following in your workplace:
- A lack of social distancing measures
- Slippery hazards that are not marked
- Faulty electronics
- Tripping hazards
- Aggressive co-workers/customers
A work place being messy is a hazard in itself, however if you have addressed these issues before with no changes being made, this means that any accidents that happen are the fault of your employers. They have breached their duty of care and you now have the right to claim compensation.
Will Covid-19 cause any problems for my claim?
In order to make work environments safe, different work places are going to face new and different challenges. This includes maintaining social distancing and changing the office environment to keep employees safe. In some cases, it is going to be safer for employees to continue working at home. However, if a business does want its employees back in the workplace, it is going to have to make changes to cope with government legislation.
In terms of your own work accident claim, you may find that the amount of time needed to process your complaint takes longer than expected. Usually, the amount of time depends on the type of work accident case you have. The more complicated the scenario, the more likely it is that it will take longer to process. However, Covid-19 has caused a backlog of cases for the court system. That means you may have to wait longer for your work accident compensation claim to go to court. Be patient and work with your solicitor as you wait. You may even have to go to court virtually in order to abide by social distancing laws.
Speak to your manager about your unsafe work environment
It’s completely natural that you may be feeling a little scared about going back to work. After all, we have all been socially isolating for over 14 weeks now. Going back into a small social bubble of colleagues is a daunting prospect. You do not know if they already had Covid-19 or perhaps are still susceptible to it. There are a lot of risks associated with going back to work and you may not be willing to take them.
If you are worried about your own personal situation, you need to tell your manager or employers as soon as possible. A good manager will understand your worries and will try their best to help you continue your work in a safe environment. They may even ask you to continue to work remotely from your home. As long as you can continue with your normal commitments to your business, there should be no reason why your employer cannot be flexible with you and your work environment.
Can a solicitor help me if I have had a work accident?
Yes! A solicitor can help you with your claim. Making a work accident claim can come with a lot of pitfalls that may invalidate your claim. For instance, were you partially responsible for the event? If your company can prove that, and you don’t list all the facts then this could invalidate your claim.
A solicitor can put your injury in perspective and let you know how much you are actually due for compensation. They can take account of your losses, the severity of your injuries and your SSP to tally an estimate for your pay out. They can also help your organize your evidence, talk you through compensation procedures and also represent you in court. That way If you are socially isolating or worried about going to court, they can go in your place.
A lawyer is truly a worthwhile investment as they can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury. That’s why you need to find an experienced law firm in Manchester as quickly as possible.
Gowing Law Solicitors can help you with your work accident compensation claim
If you are worried about getting hurt in an unsafe work environment, Gowing Law Solicitors is here to support you. We can work with you remotely and communicate with you through virtual means, such as video calling. Our experienced solicitors can offer you free advice and consultations to talk about your potential claim. If you decide to work with us, we work on a “no win, no fee” basis. That means if we do not win your case then you will not need to pay any fees. So, as you can see, there is no risk to working with our trained lawyers. We are here to get you the justice that you deserve.
Contact Gowing Law Solicitors now by calling 0800 041 8350, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our direct messaging system on our contact page. We are available 24/7 to take your call. Let us know how we can help you.
Read more about UK law and Covid-19
Here at Gowing Law, we are proud that we have been able to use our remote time to keep our blog updated on a weekly basis about the latest UK law information. We have many other series of blogs on Covid-19, including safety in the work place and information about accident at work claims. Simply scroll through our blog to find a topic that interests you. We are certain they will prepare you for when you finally speak to your solicitor about your case.
Remember, we also have a weekly newsletter and are happy to use your suggestions for blog topics. Let us know if you want more information by emailing email@example.com.
We look forward to hearing from you soon about your compensation case.