Working in a High-Risk Industry? Know Your Rights in Case of an Accident!
No workplace completely eliminates the risk of injury, no matter what industry you work in. You can also get injured if you work in healthcare, the beauty industry, or education.
The percentage of injuries in such jobs will be negligible compared to high-risk jobs, but the chance still exists.
This article discusses everything related to work injuries and the possibility of compensation: what rights you have in the event of an injury at work, how to prove that the injury was not caused by your negligence and all other relevant issues.
1. What industries are considered high-risk?
As we mentioned in the introduction, the risk of injury is always present, but it is more common in some professions than others.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these are the top five jobs with the highest risk of injury and death:
Hunting and fishing workers. It is estimated that the majority of occupational injuries and deaths are due to catastrophic damage to ships, falls from the deck, or unsecured heavy machinery on deck. The statistics are pretty unfavorable for hunters and anglers – 132.1 fatal injury rate per 100,000 workers.
Logging workers. Loggers are the second most at risk of workplace injuries, supported by a high fatal injury rate of 91.7. Logging workers must be vigilant because the majority of injuries occur due to the proximity of heavy equipment and vehicles, falling wood, strong vibrations of the saw that shake the whole body, noise, and environmental factors.
Roofing workers. The fatal injury rate among roofers is 47. The most significant risk roofers face is falling from great heights. There is a risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and electrocution from contact with unprotected power cables.
Construction workers. When we mention work-related injuries, we expect construction workers to be the most prone to them, but they still rank a high fourth. Risks include working at heights, moving objects, slips, trips, and falls, noise pollution, vibration syndrome, heavy machinery injuries, and asbestos poisoning.
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers. While commercial passenger planes are reliable, aviation injuries often occur in private aircraft and helicopters. Risks include loss of control and accidents on the runway. The fatal injury rate in aviation is 34.3.
And now, let’s see what the available options are if you get injured at work:
2. What rights do employees have if they get injured at work?
Whether you’ve been injured at work or suffer from a work-related illness, you have the same rights, and it’s essential to understand them so you can exercise them while you recover and keep your job.
The rights listed below belong to you regardless of the type of contract you have signed with an entrepreneur or company – whether you are temporarily, permanently, or self-employed:
Get medical treatment as soon as possible
Most companies have an employee to provide first aid in the event of an accident. After this person helps you, go to the nearest medical facility where the doctor will record your injuries.
Make a record of the details of the injury
If you are injured at work, you should describe how the injury occurred in your employer’s accident book. You and the foreman will make the minutes. Read everything written, and don’t sign anything that doesn’t match your version of events.
Get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Not all employees will be entitled to 100% of their wages in the event of absence due to sickness or work-related injury, but you are guaranteed by law to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Check if your employer has registered for SSP; if not, contact your local benefits office for help.
Make a full recovery before returning to work
We often hear of employers forcing workers to return to the workplace before recovery is complete. In addition to being unethical, this kind of behavior is also not legally justified because an insufficiently recovered worker can further endanger his and his colleague’s health.
If your employer is pushing you to return to work, even though you are not yet ready to do so, seek the legal help of an attorney specializing in work injuries.
Even when you are well enough to return to work, if your rehabilitation is not complete, and you are still undergoing physiotherapy or other treatments, you are entitled to take time off work. Your employer cannot deny you this right.
Look for a transfer to a less demanding position
If you do heavy physical work until your recovery is complete, you can ask for a transfer to a lighter workplace. This way, you can return to work and earn a full salary instead of being on sick leave. That will benefit both – your employer and you.
Claim compensation for a work-related injury
You have the right to receive compensation for an injury sustained at work due to mental and physical pain suffered, compensation for the cost of medical treatment, and lost earnings.
Below, we talk more about the right to compensation for an injury at work:
When is an injured employee eligible for compensation?
An accident at work does not automatically mean that you are entitled to compensation; otherwise, workers would abuse this right on a daily basis.
If your employer complied with the duty of care – the legal obligation to protect workers while performing work, there is little chance that you are eligible for compensation.
You are only entitled to compensation if the employer’s negligence caused your injury.
You will have the right to claim compensation if:
The injury occurred due to a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The injury occurred due to defective machinery.
The injury happened because you haven’t received adequate training to perform work tasks.
You were working without breaks and were too tired to notice the danger.
4. How to prove you got injured because of an employer’s negligence?
If you believe that your employer’s negligence caused your injury, your word is not enough – you will also have to prove it.
The evidence in your favor is the work injury record you and your manager made (remember, the one we told you not to sign before you read it carefully), medical records of your injuries, and proposed treatment options.
Your colleagues’ testimonies are also relevant evidence. Still, in practice, colleagues often do not want to testify because they fear the employer’s retaliation – dismissal.
Photograph the accident scene, with particular emphasis on what caused your injury. If surveillance cameras cover your workplace, ask for a copy of the video showing how the injury occurred.
5. Can an employee get fired for claiming compensation after an accident at work?
Many employees are afraid to seek compensation for injuries lest they lose their jobs. If your employer’s negligence caused your workplace injuries, you absolutely have the right to file a compensation claim.
The compensation is not paid by your employer personally but by the insurance company. In court, your lawyer will prove to the insurance company how you sustained your injuries, not to your employer.
If your employer fires you or initiates disciplinary proceedings against you, notify a lawyer ASAP. A lawyer will file a wrongful termination lawsuit, after which you will be reinstated.
6. For what kinds of injuries can you claim compensation?
If your employer’s negligence caused your injuries, you are entitled to compensation for general and special damages.
General damages include pain, fear, suffering, reduced life activity, and disfigurement. Special damages refer to compensation for medical expenses, travel expenses for medical treatments, lost earnings while you were on sick leave, etc.
The law has provisions that cover all losses due to work-related injuries. For example, disfigurement compensation: if an injury leaves you with scars in any visible place, which will negatively affect your physical appearance, you can claim compensation for mental anguish as you have to accept your new appearance.
The same applies to any other fees you may claim. Lost earnings because you didn’t go to work will be reimbursed, as will the physical pain you suffered and travel expenses to and from sessions with a physiotherapist or psychologist.
7. What is the time limit for claiming compensation?
There is a time limit for filing a claim for compensation due to a work injury. This deadline is three years from when the injury occurred, or the doctor diagnosed a medical condition that is a consequence of your work.
For example, if you were exposed to a noisy environment on a construction site and your doctor diagnosed you with significant hearing loss, you may be able to claim compensation.
Of course, it is best to seek compensation as soon as possible because t can be increasingly difficult to obtain evidence and witnesses who will work in your favor as time passes.
Regardless of your injury, you are entitled to compensation if your employer is to blame for it. Your chances of receiving the highest payment and fair treatment throughout this process are boosted if you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Law and justice are two different things; a good lawyer knows how to get both.
If necessary, the attorney will communicate with the insurance company and your employer to fight for your rights. They will not accept an unsatisfactory settlement to end the case as quickly as possible, but will ensure you get what you deserve.
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