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Accidents at Work - Watch what you say!

18 May 2010 #Termination

When there is an accident at work everyone`s first thought is understandably to look after the injured person.  However, employers need to be aware that from the minute an accident occurs everything which is said or done could be used in evidence in subsequent court proceedings.
If the accident is serious the enforecmemt authorites (often the HSE) will come in and investigate.  They have wide powers and can among other things, seize documents, take photographs, interview members of staff and remove machinery and equipment.  If an employer is subsequently  prosecuted for a breach of health and safety legislation emoloyers may find that they are called to give evidence about their working practices and procedures.  They may be questioned about things they did immediately after the accident, ie why did they admit to the family that there had been inadequate training, why did they delete relevant emails.  
Even if the employer does not face a criminal prosecution, the injured employee could bring a claim for damages in the civil courts.  It will be very difficult to defend such claims if there are no risk assessments or if the employer admitted that there were defects in the work eqipment involved in the accident
It is therefore very important that employers act appropriately after an accident at work.  We can provide training to employers on what to do (and what not to do!) when an accident occurs and when an inspector calls.  There are also a various health and safety materials on employmentbuddy.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.


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