How often do you think about safety in the work place? Whether you are a health worker, social carer or you work in a retail environment, if we are going to stop the spread of the Corona Virus, it is essential that you have the proper tools to do this. No one can go into a battle unprepared, and if you are forced to continue working without the proper equipment then you have the right to either stop working or claim for negligence in the workplace. Not everyone has the luxury of working from home, therefore it is important that we prepare those on the front line for the worst.
If you have found that your workplace has inappropriate safety gear, rules or social distancing measures in place, then this is where people can get injured (i.e. ill with Covid-19) or accidents can happen. You can claim compensation for this if your injury was due to problematic protective equipment. Your employer owes you a right of care, therefore if you have been injured it shows that they are failing to meet standard safety regulations. Gowing Law Solicitors can show you precisely how you can make a claim to ensure that the safety of your workplace is maintained. Make sure to check out Gowing Laws Accidents in the work place page for more information!
The Lack of Protective Equipment & Safety in the Work Place
Three weeks ago, the UK was up in arms about the lack of protective equipment that was needed by doctors, nurses, care staff, customer retail space and other public jobs that could not be undertaken at home. Yes, #ClapForCarers appreciated the staff who were out risking their lives for the sake of others. But the fact that the government was not getting people the equipment they needed was a shortcoming. Clearly they were not thinking about safety in the work place.
Those in hospitals were suffering from a lack of personal protection equipment (PPE). The PPE at Work Regulations 1992 states that PPE should be supplied at work wherever there is a major risk of the health and safety of the employees that cannot be controlled through other means. The PPE must be:
- Properly assessed before being used to ensure it will not break.
Stored and maintained throughout job activities.
Given to employees with instructions on how to use it safety.
To ensure safety whilst working in the pandemic, each professional area will need a specific set of equipment. Does your own work environment supply you any of the following things:
If your workplace does not have an adequate supply of the relevant PPE, then you have the right to speak up about it. People in the front line should not feel like they are being “bullied” into working for a good cause, especially if there are people around who do not respect the challenges that the job may entail during the pandemic.
Safety in the Work Place Case Study: Belly Mujinga
Belly Mujinga was a ticket worker at Victoria Station. A man approached her and spat on her after claiming that he had Covid-19. Belly Mujinga had underlying respiratory conditions and was admitted to hospital on the 2nd April when she started experiencing symptoms. She died three days later, leaving behind a husband and 11 year old daughter.
This is a tragic case that could have been easily prevented if protective measures had been put in place. That is why we need to ask ourselves these three questions:
- Why was a vulnerable person allowed to keep working?
- Why did she not have protective equipment, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, protective barriers, etc?
- When she complained about this, why did her company not take action? Why did they ignore her?
According to the BBC, the TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, claimed:
“As a vulnerable person in the ‘at-risk’ category, and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why she wasn’t stood down from frontline duties early on in this pandemic.”
The safety of the employee needs to be made the ultimate objective of any sort of employer. What this case proves is that not enough was being done to ensure that front line workers are being protected against the virus and other people. Key workers do not deserve to feel threatened by just doing their job. That is why, if you think you are in a similar position and feel like your job is not following government advice, you may need to make a claim against them for compensation and better working conditions.
Are you being bullied into silence?
On the 15th May 2020, the BBC announced that some NHS managers were trying to make doctors not speak publicly about the PPE shortage in hospitals. WhistleblowerUK claimed that more than 100 healthcare workers had come forward to say that there were concerns about Covid-19 and PPE. Workers were told through posters and newsletters that they were to stop
“commenting on political issues, such as PPE”.
Do not be afraid to speak up about any mis-treatment or lack of protective equipment. Clearly there is a flaw in the system if people focus on you and your mistakes, rather than the message that you are trying to communicate. By bringing up these issues you could save lives.
However, if you do think that your managers are getting out of hand, or are treating the situation inappropriately, you could make an employer negligence claim. These are normally linked to a work injury claim, where the employer has failed to provide a safe work environment. Worse still, these conditions may have caused an accident (i.e. the spread of the Corona Virus) and could lead to a workplace accident claim. After all, safety in the work place regulations were not being adhered to. You could claim compensation from this.
What are your work rights?
One of the main responsibilities of any employer is to provide the worker with a safe environment. If you have not received any help to maintain your safety when interacting with customers, you have every right to either leave the environment or make a formal complaint. This advice applies to more than just key workers. If you are an office worker, then you have the right to either work from home (if you think the office is not a suitable environment) or ask for social distancing measures to be put into place.
Right now, you may be feeling a little nervous about your working conditions. That is because the world of work is constantly changing- sometimes even on a daily basis. The government’s advice so far has been basically “if you can work from home then do it.” This is because it makes it less likely that a second wave of Covid-19 will hit and cause another lock down. However, there are always going to be employers who try to cut corners and force you to do the maximum on minimum supplies. This is why it is essential that you know at least the basics of your right in a period of crisis.
To put it bluntly:
Covid-19 is an accident waiting to happen
When you think of safety in the workplace, you may think of potential hazards that could affect your physical health. This could be a wet floor, electric cable or perhaps dangerous work appliances. If you are forced to commute or perhaps are in charge of a vehicle, this could also include car accidents and motorbike accidents.
Covid-19 is an invisible hazard that your employers should be trying to protect you against. If you fall sick and they refuse to pay you statutory sick pay (SSP) that is you and your family’s livelihood on the line. Safety in the work place is a big issue. If your employer is neglecting their responsibility for their employees, you can make a claim against them. Whether or not it is through an employer tribunal or is an accident at work claim depends on your personal employment situation.
What has made your work environment unsafe?
Everyone is at risk of catching Covid-19. However, there are things that your employer could be doing that are making the situation even more dangerous. Worse still, due to their actions, someone may have already caught Covid-19.
Have any of the following happened at your work place?
- Safety equipment (PPE) has been denied to you and your colleagues.
- You have been told to sort out your own safety equipment.
- You have not been updated with the latest government safety advice
- Social distancing regulations have not been applied (i.e. people are still working in large groups)
- Your work place lacks any hand gel, sanitizer or soap facilities
- You have not been allowed to work from home despite being able to
- You cannot work from home despite living with a vulnerable person
- Someone has come into your workplace with Covid-19. Nothing g was done about it- i.e. Safeguarding measures were not implemented to send them home
If any of these things have happened, and they have caused the spread of Covid-19, you could either file a a employer tribunal claim or you could ask for accident at work compensation. Both of these depend on whether or not you were the person who caught Covid-19 because of the lack of safety in the workplace. Either way, Gowing Law Solicitors can help you with these claims.
Accident at Work Claims Procedures
As mentioned previously, accident at work claims tend to be more around physical injury. However, if your employer was the main reason behind you catching the disease, you are entitled to compensation if they are proven to be at fault. In some cases, you may not need to do anything because they will pay you SSP. However, if they have simply washed their hands of you because of your illness, you could be entitled to compensation.
Gowing Law Solicitors can help you process a negligence claim against your employer, especially if it was due to a lack of safety in the work place. That way you can support your family even if you cannot go to work. We can help you do this from the safety of your home. Our specialist accident at work claims team can represent you whilst you remain isolated.
Gowing Law speaks about Covid-19 Related Topics
Covid-19 is a big topic right now when it comes to the world of work. After all, in just a few months it has managed to turn the world upside down. Every day there is something new happening that could change the routine of your world. That’s why Gowing Law is dedicated to getting you the right advice at the right time. We want to make sure that safety in the work place is properly adhered to. But don’t forget to look at some of our additional Covid-19 related blogs. This includes writing a will during the pandemic and what to do if you have been the victim of an unfair dismissal case. Let us know how we can help you.
What should you do next?
Is your employer at fault for negligence or has been the reason behind you catching Covid-19? you can either visit our accident claims page or you can reach out for more information.
We look forward to helping with your case soon!