Highlighting a concern aspect of health and safety, data from National Accident Helpline recently found that 38% of Brits report having been forced to work through pain because they cannot afford to take time off.  

Of those who have sustained injuries, 43% did not claim, with reasons including concerns of the impact on their working relationship or career.

Ultimately, there remains a stigma around claiming compensation at work; backed by the fact that at least £284 million has been unclaimed from accidents at work in 2023.

However, given that sustaining an injury at work can have long term negative consequences for both the employee and employer, making health and safety a priority is critical as well as ensuring employees are comfortable making claim, for when things go wrong.

Why are employees too worried to claim?

These accidents leave team members requiring long term sick leave, meaning they can often go unpaid. With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to bite, having to take unpaid time off, alongside a lack of compensation, means that some injured employees will be struggling more than ever.

Not only this, but the business also loses a valuable team member, meaning either workload for colleagues will increase, or business leaders will have to go through a costly hiring process to source a temporary replacement. It’s for these reasons that health and safety in the workplace needs to be prioritised, in order to avoid a domino effect of issues for both parties.

How can employers create a safe working environment?

Our research found that 30% of Brits report having slipped, tripped, or fallen in the workplace and seriously hurt themselves. A third of Brits had seriously hurt themselves picking something up at work, while a fifth of respondents revealed they had been hurt by defective machinery or working equipment.

This shows that across all industries, employers need to create a safe working environment.

Risks need to be mitigated, through checks and appropriate training. Information about the risks that are present should be shared with all employees; existing, new hires, temporary staff and any visitors.

There also needs to be regular training and refresher courses for all members of staff, and regular reminders of any risks that do exist at work. Whether that’s through internal communications, signage, or two-way dialogue put in place so that any newly noticed risks can be alerted to seniors, questions can be asked, concerns raised, and suggestions can be made.

Mental health risks, as well as physical

Physical risks and safety measures shouldn’t be the only parts of the workforce that are considered within these checks. Business leaders should look out for all aspects of health and wellbeing.

Elements of the working day can often become overwhelming, leading to a negative impact on mental health, such as burn out, high stress levels, severe fatigue and a poor work life balance. All of these can lead to employee sickness levels increasing, again leading to long term sick leave-evidence already suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

There are many risks associated with working life that can lead to a downturn in mental health.

For example, working long, inflexible and unsociable hours, an overly heavy workload or conflicting work and personal lives. These are all elements that can interfere with a person’s work, in terms of productivity and morale, but also impact their health. These aspects need to be monitored closely, and brought to attention at the nearest possible occasion, or business leaders risk losing valuable talent to long term illness.

Inclusive workplaces for all

The workplace must be suitable and accessible to all, including those with disabilities or impairments. Employers should stay on top of the latest legislation, for example, disability discrimination in the workplace is illegal and is part of the disability discrimination law contained within the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits disability discrimination in the workplace.

Reasonable adjustments need to be made in the workplace, and employers are legally required to remove obstacles at work which you encounter as a person with a disability. This can include providing and adjusting things at work to remove these.

Final thoughts

It is not only full-time employees who should expect this right, as reasonable adjustments should also be made for trainees, apprentices, contact workers and business partners. Ensuring the workplace is safe for all parties is vital.

It needs to be understood that injuries and sickness caused by hazards in the workplace can have a long-term negative impact on a person’s quality of life; financially, physically and mentally. With so many Brits sustaining injuries and not claiming compensation for workplace accidents, we run the risk of witnessing a UK sick leave crisis, amidst an already brutal cost of living crisis.

The stigma around claiming needs to be overcome, and workplace risks need to be mitigated, in order to avoid reaching the same severity of workplace injuries as those in the US. Employers have a duty of care to their employees, and therefore their health and safety needs to be front and centre on their list of priorities.

John Kushnick
John Kushnick
Legal Operations Director at National Accident Helpline | Website

John oversees the personal injury teams at National Accident Law and has worked tirelessly with his team and the wider business to drive ever-improving processing performance. This involves making sure the customer journey is optimised from the start of a claim through to its investigation, negotiation and final settlement. John is driven by a desire to stand up for people injured in accidents.