Accidents at work: what are your rights?

Accidents happen, but it a perfectly reasonable assumption for employees to expect that their workplaces will be safe. After all, it is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees.

Yet the most recent Government statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) looking at accidents at work show that workplaces can be dangerous places:

  • 6 million workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2018/19
  • 69,208 non-fatal injuries to employees reported by employers in 2018/19
  • 147 fatal injuries to workers in 2018/19
  • 2 billion is the annual cost of workplace injury in 2017/18
  • 2 million working days lost to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2018/19

Your employer must:

  • tell you how to do your job safely in a way that you can understand, and tell you about the risks to your health and safety from current or proposed working practices;
  • tell you how any risks will be controlled and who is responsible for this;
  • consult and work with health and safety representatives and employees to protect everyone from harm in the workplace;
  • tell you how to get first-aid treatment and what to do in an emergency;
  • provide, free of charge, training to enable you to do your job safely;
  • provide any equipment and protection necessary for you at work (such as clothing, shoes or boots, eye and ear protection, gloves, masks etc) and ensure it is properly looked after;
  • provide health checks if there is a danger of ill health because of your work;
  • provide regular health checks if you work nights and a check before you start.

Your employer must also display or make available the following information:

  • the health and safety law poster (, which must be displayed in a prominent place, or as an alternative, they can provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card. This should give the contact details of people who can help;
  • a copy of their health and safety policy statement;
  • an up-to-date Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) certificate ( visible in your place of work

Of course, it’s not all one-way traffic and employers have certain responsibilities too, aimed at minimising the risk of any accidents at work. Employees must be sure to cooperate fully with their employers and colleagues to help everyone meet their legal requirements.

As an employee you must:

  • Follow the training you have received when using any work items your employer has given you.
  • Take reasonable care of your own and other people’s health and safety.
  • Co-operate with your employer on health and safety.
  • Tell someone (your employer, supervisor, or health and safety representative) if you think the work or inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s health and safety at serious risk.

If in doubt, or if you have any concerns, then you should talk to your employer. If after doing so you are still concerned, then contact the HSE for advice.