Rights of Workers: First Aid and Injuries at work


First Aid

Employers are obliged to provide first-aid facilities, including first-aid boxes and a number of trained first-aiders, depending on the nature of the risks posed by the employer’s business and the number of employees.

In hazardous workplaces, there should be one qualified first-aider where more than 50 persons are employed and two where more than 150 are employed.

Accidents and industrial diseases causing the loss of more than three days’ working time must be notified to the Health and Safety Executive.

Injuries at Work

If you are injured at work you can bring a claim for compensation against your employer for negligence or breach of statutory duty on the basis that your employer has not provided safe tools or equipment, a safe workplace, proper training, or a safe system of work including assessing risks to your health and taking preventative measures when necessary.

A civil claim is made in either the County Court or the High Court depending on the seriousness of the injury or the disease you have contracted. Community Legal Services funding is available.

You must claim within three years of the injury or disease, although you can sometimes claim later if you did not know that you were suffering from an injury or disease which is attributable to your employer’s negligence. If successful, you will be awarded damages to compensate you for your injury and for financial losses such as loss of wages and expenses.

Psychiatric Illness

You can also claim if you suffer a psychiatric injury or illness as a result of your work. However, there are a number of hurdles that you have to overcome if you are to succeed in a claim against your employer.

1. You will have to show that you are suffering from a recognised psychiatric illness. In general terms, this means you must have evidence from a consultant psychiatrist who has diagnosed you with a specific psychiatric illness recognised by the World Health Organisation. A general diagnosis of stress will not be enough.

2. You will need to prove that your illness is directly attributable to your work.

3. You will have to prove that it was reasonably foreseeable that you would suffer from such an illness as a result of the pressures of work. It is at this stage that the vast majority of cases fail because you will need to show that there were very clear danger signals that would have been obvious to your employer. You are only likely to succeed if you can point to something of which your employer was aware such as a previous breakdown, or long periods of absence due to stress before your final breakdown, or a clear indication from you or your doctor that there was a real risk you would suffer a breakdown. Where there is no such reason to anticipate injury to health, no compensation will be awarded.

4. You will have to show that there was something which your employer should reasonably have done to lighten the pressures on you, having regard to all the circumstances including the severity of the risk to your health, the degree of harm that could result, the costs of taking any steps to alleviate the pressure and any justifications for running the risk that your health may be damaged.


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