Can I be sacked for having an accident at work?

By Anna Watson

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In this article, we’ll explore your rights in the unfortunate situation of an accident at work, including whether you can be dismissed as a result.

Workplace accidents are a frightening reality for many UK workers. While your priority should always be your health and recovery following an accident, concerns about job security can add unnecessary stress.

What you can and can’t be sacked for

In the UK, employers have a legal duty to ensure a safe working environment under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). This means they cannot dismiss you solely for having an accident. However, dismissal may be a possibility in specific circumstances:

  • Gross negligence: If your actions directly caused the accident due to a blatant disregard for safety protocols or procedures, dismissal might be considered.
  • Wilful misconduct: Intentionally ignoring safety rules or putting yourself and others at risk could lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal.
  • Incapacity to perform duties: If the accident leaves you permanently unable to fulfil your job requirements, even with reasonable adjustments made to help you do so, dismissal may be a last resort.
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Examples of when you can or can’t be sacked

Here are some scenarios to illustrate the legal nuances:

  • You slip on a wet floor and break your arm: This is likely an unfortunate accident, and you cannot be sacked. You should report the incident and may be entitled to make a personal injury claim.
  • You operate machinery without proper training and injure yourself: While the accident is unfortunate, the lack of training suggests employer negligence. You likely cannot be dismissed and might have grounds for a personal injury claim against your employer.
  • You misuse equipment and cause damage or injure yourself: Dismissal could be a possibility due to misconduct, especially if you were trained/instructed beforehand on how to use the equipment appropriately.

What to do if you have been injured at work

If you do suffer a workplace injury, make sure to take the following actions:

  • Report the accident immediately: Inform your supervisor and complete any necessary accident report forms.
  • Seek medical attention: Get a doctor’s assessment to document your injuries.
  • Keep records: Maintain copies of accident reports, medical records, and witness statements (if applicable).
  • Consider legal advice: A specialist personal injury or clinical negligence solicitor can advise you on your rights and potential personal injury claims.

Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors represented Mr Lamont in making a personal injury claim against ASDA in relation to occupational asthma arising due to inhalation of flour dust and yeast particles.

Remember…

You are protected from being dismissed for making a personal injury claim against your employer. There are strict time limits for claiming compensation, however, so seeking legal advice promptly is crucial.

UK law provides robust protection against dismissal solely due to a workplace accident taking place. If you’ve been injured at work, prioritise your health, report the incident, and seek legal advice if necessary.

A specialist solicitor can guide you through the claims process and ensure you receive fair compensation for any personal injury claim you may decide to make.

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