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How Can HR Staff Support Workers After They Get Injured At Work?

If your employees suffer an injury while at work, it’s important to understand their legal rights and what you can do to support them.

When workers have concerns about their pay, working conditions or another colleague, it is up to HR to address and rectify those concerns. But how should HR respond after a workplace accident? What steps should be taken? And how can HR personnel operate effectively to minimise the risk of an accident occurring?

We’ll look at all these questions and more, examining how HR can support employees following a workplace injury.

What Role Does HR Play In Preventing Accidents At Work?

Human Resources (HR) is an integral part of any business structure. They act as a go-between for employees and management, giving the employees a voice within the workplace.

When it comes to preventing accidents at work, HR has a role to play. For example, say an engineering firm employee asks for a meeting with HR. During this meeting, the employee informs HR that some of the machinery is showing signs of wear and this could present a health and safety risk.

HR should ensure this matter is looked into promptly, management informed and the potential hazard removed or otherwise rectified (repair the machinery or get new equipment if repair is not possible). Clear and effective communication with the employees regarding these concerns should also be maintained.

While employee safety and well-being should always be the paramount concern, HR providing prompt and thorough resolution to employee concerns also presents a boon for the business.

Going back to our faulty machine example, if the repair or replacement is organised quickly, the dip in productivity from being a machine down will be minimal. A good health safety record is also an attractive prospect to new staff, as well as retaining existing employees.

What Are The Common Causes Of Workplace Accidents?

Apart from the faulty equipment mentioned above, workplace accidents can be caused by a variety of different issues, including:

  • A lack of adequate training and supervision.
  • Wet or uneven floors.
  • Improper use of vehicles.
  • Dangerous manual handling practices.
  • Inadequate protective gear or clothing, e.g. steel toe-capped boots, hard hats and gloves.

These are all issues that employees should be on top of anyway. It is an employer’s legal duty to make sure that appropriate standards of safety are in place. But if equipment breaks down, is used inappropriately or training has been carried out incorrectly, that should be rectified as soon as possible.

It is up to HR to address any concerns that are raised with them and ensure employees can confidently and comfortably bring concerns regarding workplace safety to the company.

What If An Employee Makes A Compensation Claim?

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 imposes a duty of care on all employers. This law stipulates that reasonable steps must be taken to ensure the safety of all workers

In order to make an injury at work claim, the employee will need to show that the employer failed to take reasonable steps to ensure their safety, and that this resulted in the accident that caused their injuries.

Any claim must be made within 3 years of the accident date per the Limitation Act 1980, although certain exceptions to this can apply, for example, if the injured employee is under 18 or lacks the mental capacity to claim for themselves.

While HR won’t be involved during the claims process, they may be in touch when the employee returns to work to make sure any reasonable adjustments are in place to accommodate the employee’s injuries

Employee Rights Against Dismissals After An Accident At Work

A dismissal is where an employee’s contract of employment is ended. This can happen for many different reasons but what’s important is that the employer maintains appropriate standards of fairness and consistency when handling dismissals.

Some different types of dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996  include:

  • Redundancy: where a job role is no longer needed.
  • Conduct: when an employee has behaved in a manner that is inappropriate.
  • Legal reasons: if an employee can legally no longer do their job, such as a driving ban.
  • ‘Some other substantial reason’: this can cover a broad range of situations.

Whatever the reason for a dismissal, employees have certain rights. A dismissal must have a fair reason and that reason be sufficient enough to justify the dismissal. Employers should also follow a fair and reasonable dismissal procedure, in line with the likes of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

Where the employee has worked for the company for at least 2 years and no sufficient reason was given or the procedures followed by the company are not fair, this could constitute an unfair dismissal.

Employees have the right to appeal this decision, and it is worth getting advice from your trade union or legal representative if you want to make an appeal. This is particularly important if the employee has worked for the company for less than 2 years.

What Are Automatically Unfair Reasons?

Automatically unfair reasons are justifications for a dismissal that are always considered to be inadequate, and therefore the dismissal is unfair. Examples include:

  • Being called for jury service.
  • Pregnancy or wanting to take family leave.
  • Being a trade union member or representative.
  • Taking part in industrial action.
  • For any reason that goes against the company’s diversity and inclusion policy and the Equality Act 2010.

An employee can bring their claim to an employment tribunal if they’ve been for an automatically unfair reason, regardless of how long they’ve worked for the company.

Ensuring The Injury Is Recorded In The Accident Book

An accident book is a record of any incidents that occur on the company premises. Employers with 10 or more employees must keep an accident book.

Certain incidents must be reported to the HSE under The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). In addition to being a legal requirement, the incident report is potential evidence if an employee decides to seek compensation, and their incident report should be made available to them if they request a copy.

Final Thoughts

Companies have a legal duty to ensure their premises are as safe as reasonably possible for their employees, and HR play a role in ensuring this standard of safety is met and maintained. HR should act as a mechanism by which employees can raise their concerns regarding safety or company practices, and be secure in the knowledge that those concerns will be addressed promptly and effectively.

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