Stringent health and safety measures have drastically reduced the number of workplace accidents that occur annually across the US, but accidents can (and do) still happen. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.8 people out of 100 get injured at work.
As such, it's important that you know exactly what to do should you find yourself in this unfortunate scenario, especially as you can be involved in an accident through no fault of your own. This will allow you to prioritize your well-being so that you’re able to move forward from this situation sooner rather than later.
If you are in an accident at work, it's important that you get the help you need right away. For example, under no circumstances should you try to brush off what happened, even if you feel fine. After all, it can sometimes take time for symptoms of certain conditions, such as concussions, to present themselves. Furthermore, the longer medical issues go unchecked, the harder and more complex they may be to treat.
Your workplace should have trained first-aid staff on-site. However, it is also worthwhile to get checked up at your local hospital or medical facility. During this time, it's important that you take on board and follow all of the medical advice you receive. After all, doing so will facilitate a speedy recovery and often means you’ll be back on your feet and feeling like your normal self again. Often, much quicker than you would be if you disregard this advice. For example, if you are told to take time off work, it is important that you do so. Rushing to return before you are fully recovered will likely worsen your injuries' long-term impact.
Whenever an accident occurs in the workplace, the employer must file a report. This is so the employer can identify the cause of the issue and put plans in place to ensure it does not happen again. For example, if the accident is due to the misuse of specific equipment, they can ensure the entire team receives adequate training on how to use the machine while installing instructions beside the machine.
When filing the report, be sure to add details, especially if you are not at fault. Typically, you should include the following information:
It is the responsibility of the employer to create a safe workspace for their employees. Failing to do so could mean that you’re able to take legal action. As such, you should also ensure that you gather plenty of evidence relating to the accident, as having the right documentation will also work in your favor. Furthermore, it could be that your employer tries to imply that the accident was your own fault, and without the relevant evidence, you may not be able to suitably defend yourself.
There are various forms of evidence you can gather during this time, including incident reports, witness statements and even photographs.
As above, if you are injured at work, it's likely that you will be able to take legal action and receive compensation. This can help to cover the cost of ongoing medical bills and expenses. Furthermore, it can help you recoup any loss of income due to time off.
However, if you’ve never taken legal action before, it can be hard to know where to start. Especially if you are unsure of your rights or how the legal system works. Luckily, hiring the right lawyer will make the entire experience as easy and straightforward as possible. After all, they’ll be able to talk you through each step of the process.
As such, you should ensure that you hire a lawyer who has previous experience in supporting clients who have been injured at work, often referred to as worker's compensation lawyers. After all, this means they’ll have the skills and experience required to present a strong case to the court. Thus, giving you the best chance of receiving compensation and further support. They’ll also be able to answer any questions you have.
While hiring a lawyer does come as an additional expense during a time where you may be worried about money, it's important that you’re able to look at the bigger picture and think about the financial gains associated with seeking compensation. Furthermore, many will offer a free, no-obligation discovery call to kickstart the process.
The legal process can take some time. This means you may not receive compensation for many months after the accident. You must spend this time focusing on your recovery as opposed to worrying about the potential outcome. You should also be sure that you do not return to work before you are ready to do so. Additionally, you may want to consider a phased return.
Before returning to work, you may want to ask your employer to give evidence of the changes they have put in place to reduce the risk of accident or injury moving forward. For example, it may be that they’ve updated their health and safety policies as a result of the incident. This should give you greater peace of mind.
In addition to following all of the doctor's advice relating to your physical recovery, you should also address the mental impact the accident has had on you. For example, you may notice that you are more stressed or anxious than you were previously. Especially, when you begin to transition back into working life. One study found that, upon returning to work, 66% recovering from injuries felt nervous around the site of their accident.
The most straightforward way to cope with your complex thoughts and feelings relating to your accident is to seek professional help. After all, working with a therapist will help you to better understand the root of your anxiety or low mood. Additionally, it can provide you with the coping mechanisms you need to move forward.
However, you should also ensure that you find peace independently, whether that be through meditation, yoga or mindfulness.
It's totally normal to feel some base level of both guilt and anger after an accident. Especially if there were other people involved. However, holding onto these feelings will not serve you well moving forward and may even put a stopper in your recovery. For example, it could be that you are unable to process what happened because you’re still focusing on the emotional fallout of the accident, as opposed to your recovery. Again, this can be something that you work on in therapy. However, you may also find talking to your friends and family useful.
With hundreds of workplace accidents happening every single day, it is important that you are aware of the steps you should follow during the aftermath of such an incident. After all, while abiding by workplace regulations can help to keep yourself and your team safe, accidents can still happen with these precautions and systems in place.
This knowledge will not only support you should you find yourself in this situation, but it also means you’ll be able to support any of your colleagues, too. It can also make it easier for you to move on in a way that is healthy and realistic.