How to prove a workplace injury

By Richard Paremain

The law says that a record of accidents at work must be kept by your employer. This is not to say that it always happens or indeed that the record will be completed accurately. However as employers are required to look after your safety whilst at work they are more than likely to keep proper records as to fail to look after your safety can sometimes amount to a criminal offence.

As a result there are often a number of places where records are kept which can be useful to prove a claim.

An accident should be kept which should detail where, when and how an accident happened and will often include details of witnesses. If you have the chance to complete such an accident report or are asked to sign one please read it very carefully before signing to make sure it is an accurate description of how the accident happened.

First Aiders keep reports of injuries they treat. If there is one in your workplace a record will be kept which will describe the injury and the mechanism by which it was suffered.

RIDDOR the health and safety executive must be informed by law of any accident which results in injuries keeping the employee absent from work for more than three days. They will often investigate circumstances and take action to ensure future safety and punish safety breaches. A report to the Health and Safety Executive under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Act, also provide vital information about the accident, as does the outcome of any HSE investigation.

Often employees are themselves asked to complete an accident questionnaire immediately after an accident. This allows you to complete a full description of the circumstances in your own words.

Likewise your supervisor should be asked to complete a questionnaire and if you are a union member the union representative will also complete one.

On a regular basis your employer should have health and safety meetings, accident are discussed within those meetings so both before and after an accident there might be relevant material available. This is particularly helpful where there have been previous similar incidents.

Risk assessments should be carried out to make sure that the way you do your job is safe. This is then revisited after an accident so that recommendations might be made to ensure that same does not happen again.