When you re-open your office, you may be initially excited because you want to get your staff in and have things back to the way they were before Covid-19 turned the world upside. Right now, there is a major debate about whether or not offices should enforce face-masks, which will be important for you as an employer. The last thing you need on your hands is an employee claiming that they want compensation due to catching Covid-19 in the workplace. That’s why you need to be prepared when you eventually ask for people to return to the office or work-place. Accidents can happen and you need to make sure you are taking the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. If you don’t do this, it is very likely that your employees could ask you for work accident compensation.
Gowing Law Solicitors can help both you and your employees feel safe when you go back. If not, we can offer advice to guide you both into a settlement agreement. Whether you are feeling nervous about returning to your office, or want to find a way to comfort your employees, our latest blog can give you some tips about what sort of hazards could pose a threat in the work-place.
Is it safe enough to re-open your office?
No matter what situation you are in, you have to put the safety of your employees first. That’s why you may want to consider alternative options to immediately opening up your office. Most offices have taken to remote working permanently as an alternative to re-opening. Did you know that around 91% of workers would actually like to keep working remotely, despite being allowed to return to the office on the 1st August? Think about it this way, not only are you saving on office expenses, travel costs, energy bills, but working remotely has had a significant effect on the UK workers’ mental health. According to one worker, interviewed by the BBC,
“It’s like getting a pay rise without receiving any more money”
You need to also consider whether or not you are in a high-risk area. If you are then it would not be wise to return to the office yet. Consider your individual circumstances and then move forward accordingly. If your workers can do their jobs just as effectively at home then you should consider flexible working as an option even after the pandemic has calmed.
Changes to the work environment before you re-open your office?
Yes, you should. If you desperately need to re-open your office and ask workers to come in, then you will need to make sure that the office is compliant with Covid-19 safety regulations. There is a chance that your employees could get sick if you re-open your office. If this happens, they may well ask for some form of work accident compensation. Consider the following to get started:
- Hand sanitizer stations.
- Screened work areas.
- Staggered work desks and working hours.
- Enforce mask use inside the office.
- Employ cleaners to decontaminate the office frequently throughout the day.
- Virtual meetings with clients rather than inviting them into the office.
Of course, there are still ways that your employees could get hurt if you are negligent when it comes to your work environment. This could be outside of catching Covid-19, so make sure to keep an eye out for any unmarked hazards or warnings about dangerous areas in the office. You should also listen to your employees if they bring something to your attention. It is your responsibility to have it fixed quickly to avoid work accidents.
Are there any other ways workers could suffer from a work accident when you decided to re-open your office?
Of course there are ways your employees could get hurt if you do not take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Safety & Covid-19 is one thing, but you need to make sure that all of the workplace is free of hazards and that your staff are trained properly. Acts of negligence in the workplace may include:
- Failing to provide appropriate training.
- Asking workers to take on inappropriate task (i.e. carrying boxes without any manual handling training).
- Requesting workers to do repetitive tasks (i.e. typing that could cause repetitive strain disorder).
- Violence in the workplace.
- Demanding employees work extensive hours without any breaks.
- Refusal to provide appropriate protection gear.
If you do not try to protect your employees in every way possible, it is very likely that they could get hurt. This means that they may try to make a work accident compensation claim against you.
What should you do if employees gets hurt after you re-open your office?
Whether you are an employee or an employer, it someone gets hurt during work-hours, it is important that you make sure that the accident is noted down immediately in the work place’s accident book. You should also contact your insurer. All businesses should invest in employer liability insurance when they first open. That way you can show that you are prepared and ready to deal with any potential accidents.
The safety of your employees should be put above everything else. Make sure that they get medical assistance or go to hospital to get checked out. You should also keep a first-aid kit onsite to ensure that you can help the hurt employee as quickly as possible. From there, you should be prepared to work with the employee to gather their evidence and to accept that there may well be a settlement case directed to you and your insurer. If you are open to admit that you were at fault for the damages, you should sit down with the employee, their solicitor and your insurer to discuss a settlement agreement.
Going to re-open your office? Here’s what you need to look out for.
Now that you know how to handle a work-place accident, you need to understand how your employees could get hurt. Here are the top ten ways that an accident could happen in your office. The more ways you understand the hazards of your workplace, the more likely it is that you can avoid them in the future.
Although this may seem a little bit dramatic, it is always better to be safe than sorry. There have been over 320,000 cases of Covid-19 in the UK. That’s why it is your duty as an employer to keep your employees safe from this virus when you re-open your office. Covid-19 is spread through particles on surfaces and through the air through coughing and sneezing. You should take safety precautions to keep your environment as clean as possible. You will also want to keep using UK government recommended social-distancing methods to ensure that there is no active transfer of germs. Take a look at the infographic below to get more of an idea of how you can adhere to social-distancing in the workplace.
2. Slips and Trips
Slips and trips are more common than you think. Unmarked spills of water or liquid on the floor can be a disaster if they are not pointed out. For instance, your employee might be carrying a heavy box or something that obstructs their view. That means that it is likely that they won’t see the spill and will fall over. Worse still, if they fall in to the substance and it could cause damage to the skin, it may mean that the employee gets severely injured. Make sure to put out warning signs to ensure that there are no unmarked hazards in the workplace.
3. Falling Objects
A messy work environment can be a source of hazards. After all, if you move a single object from above, you will have no idea what comes tumbling down. If you do not keep up with the housekeeping of your office, you may find that you get hurt more easily. Make sure that everything is stacked neatly away to make sure that you keep safe. Try not to over stack your shelves. That way no one will get hurt if an object is moved slightly. If an object falls down, you could get bruises, bleeding or even broken bones. It is a hazard that can be easily fixed.
When you work in an office, there are some tasks that happen more than others. For instance, your workers may constantly be at their computers answering emails, typing up reports or generally doing written work that is required from their position. However, if they are constantly typing without any breaks then this may lead them to developing repetitive strain problems. Whilst this may only start with minor injuries, they can get worse if the employee does not go out to actively seek help from a doctor. Make sure to always check up on employees to see if they are doing okay. If they are starting to develop small problems, then you can change their break system to try and incorporate their needs. This will lead them to becoming more productive as employees. So it is a win-win situation
5. Faulty Equipment
Now, an office isn’t exactly like a construction site, you are not going to find heavy machinery left, right and centre. However, you may find large devices like printers, copies and filing cabinets around the room. You may even have specialist computers or electronic devices to help with your daily work. However, if someone gets hurt due to their equipment malfunctioning, this can have dire consequences. In some cases it may just be a small electric shock, but in other cases people could get burns or even lose a limb. Always replace faulty equipment or hire an engineer to try and fix it before it becomes a hazard in the workplace.
6. Toxic Fumes
You have to remember that some offices are more unique than others. There are many different professions that require different types of safety measures put in place to protect employees. For those that work with hazardous chemicals on a daily basis, they will need PPE and certain equipment to protect them. If they do not have this then they could get hurt due to the toxic fumes or burns on their skin. You need to make sure that no matter what type of work environment an employee has, they are protected when they are on duty.
7. Hearing and Eyesight Damage
Again, this depends on the type of environment you and your employees work in, but if you do not supply them with the right equipment then they could get hurt. This could include damage to the eyes, which could affect their sight, or perhaps to their ears that could make them struggle with their hearing. If there are any hazards to eyesight or hearing, make sure to supply them with muffling gear and goggles. That way they can stay protected even during dangerous situations.
8. Cuts, Bleeding and Lacerations
Offices tend to have powerful equipment onsite to help workers with their daily duties. Staff must be properly trained to use them, including knowing the type of protection that can keep them safe throughout the use of the equipment. However, if this does not happen, there is a high chance that they could be wounded with deep cuts, gashes and in some cases lacerations. If you have any type of bladed equipment in your office, make sure you go through proper procedure to ensure that your staff know how to use it without any problems.
9. Vehicle Accidents
In some cases, your employees may be required to operate vehicles (such as forklifts) in a storehouse or perhaps may need to move furniture from one office to another in a van. Unfortunately, if an accident does happen in a hired vehicle, your employee can still ask you for compensation. They may also be inquiring into road traffic accident compensation. Make sure that your employees are trained to operate certain vehicles. This will ensure that the chance of an accident is lessened.
10. Staff and Violence
Not every colleague you have is going to be a good fit for your company. In fact, they may be more trouble than they are worth. Some employees may simply be there to start trouble with other employees. They may be violent and start altercations that come out of nowhere. As an employer, it is up to you to recognise when you may have trouble brewing in your office. You have the responsibility to keep the rest of your staff safe. So, make sure to talk to the employee and if they still lash out, you must remove them or give them the appropriate warning. You may also want to consider investing in self-defence lessons for your staff to lower the chance that they get hurt if they are involved in a fight.
Employees: Have you been hurt in a work accident when your employer decided to re-open your office?
If you have then it is up to you to take the appropriate steps forward to help claim compensation. You need to gather evidence to prove that your employer is “at fault” for your wounds. This includes:
- CCTV footage
- Medical Records
- Receipts of financial losses
- Witness Statements
- Police Statements
- Diary Entries
The more evidence you have, the more likely that you will have a successful claims case on your hands. You will also need to alert staff to your injuries and request to have it written down in the work accident handbook. From there, you should get a lawyer to help you with your claim. They can start drafting a settlement agreement for you to bring to your employer.
Gowing Law Solicitors are experts in work accident compensation claims!
Here at Gowing Law, we understand that when you reopen your office, it can be a bit of a risk. You don’t know who is going to get hurt and when. That’s why it is up to employers and business owners to provide a safe environment for workers to do their daily jobs. If they do not, then they will be liable for damages. Gowing Law can help you claim compensation for your losses. We can offer free advice and consultations to get you started. If you are happy with what we have to offer, we can work with you on a “no win-no fee” basis. That means you will not need to pay any hidden fees and will always come out on top.
To get in contact with Gowing Law, all you need to do is call us up on 0800 041 8350, email us at email@example.com or use our contact page to directly message us. One of our team members will be there to answer any of your questions.
Learn more about work accident claims!
We understand that you want to learn more about work accident claims so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. That’s why Gowing Law Solicitors has a law blog that can answer all of your questions. We update weekly with new content for you to enjoy. Feel free through scroll through it till you find something that you like. If you cannot find the content that answers your questions, why not let us know? Send in your suggestions for articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our content writers will then write up an article that answers your questions.
We look forward to seeing you in our next blog!