Nobody starts their working day expecting to have an accident, but sadly accidents at work are a common occurrence and, in some cases, the effects can be devastating.
Figures released by the Labour Force Survey show a staggering 693,000 self-reported non-fatal injuries for the 2019/2020 reporting period. And these worrying statistics are a substantial increase on previous years.
So, what is happening?
It is difficult to say whether health & safety standards of care are declining in the workplace, or whether more employees are simply deciding to report their injuries. But, either way, it is a concerning upward trend.
The article will focus on accidents and injuries sustained from falling down stairs at work.
Can I Claim For Falling Down The Stairs At Work?
Some people may say falling down the stairs is just a clumsy thing to do, or see it as an unavoidable accident. The issue here is that the word ‘accident’ often suggests that no-one is to blame, but that can be misleading.
Tens of thousands of injuries suffered by employees every year could have been prevented.
And if you tripped, slipped or fell down the stairs at work, due to an employer’s negligent action (or inaction), you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
All employers owe a ‘duty of care’ to their employees, to ensure their workplace is a safe environment to carry out their duties.
Of course, some jobs are inherently more dangerous and automatically carry increased risks, such as scaffolding, handling hazardous materials, working in a foundry etc.
Nevertheless, all employers must carry out regular and comprehensive risk assessments to identify areas where specialist training, equipment or PPE (personal protective equipment) is required.
What Led To The Fall?
Falling down the stairs is a frightening experience, whatever your age and whatever the circumstances.
Common hazards that may lead to such accidents include:
1) Slippery Surfaces
This includes liquid spills and slippery surfaces (wrong paint type, varnished wood or laminate etc) that provides no traction to safely walk down the stairs.
Perhaps the stairs, or stairwell, regularly become a slip hazard due to rain, snow or ice accumulating on the surface.
2) Trip Hazards / Obstacles
Stairs and stairwells should always be clear and free from unnecessary objects and dangers. If you have to navigate yourself around obstacles when ascending or descending the stairs, you are much more likely to trip and fall.
Obstacles positioned at the entry or exit points of the stairs can cause someone to fall unnecessarily.
This could also happen if an employee is expected to carry particularly large or heavy objects down the stairs, without the correct assistance. A fall may also occur if the stairs are poorly maintained or an essential handrail is damaged/missing.
Of course, an employer cannot be held responsible for every fall in the workplace, but it is their responsibility to arrange the rapid clean up and removal of spills, remove hazards and obstacles, maintain the stairs/handrails and put up the necessary warning signage if there is an issue.
They are also responsible for ensuring the correct manual handling training has been provided if an employee’s role includes carrying large or heavy objects.
Can I Sue My Employer For Falling Down Stairs?
If you sustained an injury and the incident happened because of your employer’s negligence, then yes, you can, providing you can prove they were at fault.
In most cases, it would be your employer’s insurers that would pay out compensation in a successful case and it may remove the chances of it happening again to someone else.
The vast majority of UK businesses should, and will, have employer liability insurance.
Injuries from falling down the stairs may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fractured, dislocated or broken
- Severe bleeding or bruising
- Ligament damage
- Puncture wounds
- Internal haemorrhage
- Organ damage
- Brain Injury
- Even Death
There is no doubt that a fall down the stairs can be a serious and life-threatening incident.
It is also important to note that your employer cannot legally sack you for making a valid workplace accident claim.
So, if you were to be in this position and you can prove you have been unfairly targeted because of the action you took, speak to an expert. You could be eligible to bring forward an ‘unfair dismissal’ case too.
What Should I Do If I Fall Down The Stairs At Work?
The number one priority is to seek immediate medical attention, especially if you have sustained a serious injury. Your health and wellbeing is of paramount importance, so that always comes first.
Some of the steps listed here may be carried out by a colleague, if you are unable to do so or required to go to hospital.
1) Seek Medical Attention
If you have been injured, but not so seriously that you need hospital treatment, we would still suggest you see your local GP or medical facility to get your injury assessed and treated.
This will also add an entry into your medical records, as proof of the accident and injuries sustained, which will be required as evidence should you decide to file for compensation.
2) Record The Evidence
If possible, take photos of the scene, your injuries and what led to your fall.
You should also write down a full account of exactly what happened and what you believe caused the accident. As much detail as possible will help, should you wish to pursue a claim.
3) Get Witness Statements
If any of your work colleagues saw what happened, or members of the public, ask for their name and contact details, so that witness statements can be gathered later.
4) Record The Incident
Your workplace should have an official accident book. Make a full and detailed entry into the book and ask for a photocopy.
If they do not have or will not give you access to the accident book, write your own account with dates and times etc and give one copy to your manager and keep the original for yourself.
5) Keep Receipts & Financial Loss Details
If your injury causes you to be off work for an extended period, and you suffer a loss of earnings, keep a record of any financial losses.
Also, keep receipts for any transport costs or medical costs (such as prescriptions, medical aids etc) that are relevant to your injuries. If you need to pay for physiotherapy or any other treatment, keep the invoices as proof of payments.
6) Seek Legal Advice
If you wish to consider making a claim, as you feel your employer was responsible for the accident, contact a professional.
Our online form gives you access to experienced claims advisors ready to help you. They can advise whether you have a valid case and can process the claim on your behalf, using their knowledge and experience to get you the best pay-out.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
There is a time-limit on making claims, such as these for personal-injury compensation.
For adults, it is 3 years from the date of the accident, or 3 years from when you became aware that the accident has caused you long-lasting harm, if later.
For minors the time limits are more generous and mean a claim can be made anytime up to the victim’s 21st birthday (basically 18 years of age – adulthood – plus the 3-year limit).
If a victim tragically died due to their injuries, or is unable to file a case due to severe disablement, their next of kin may do so on their behalf, subject to the same time constraints.
Claims for compensation may be a few hundred pounds, several thousand or even hundreds of thousands. It all depends on the severity of the injuries sustained and the long-term prognosis.
The important thing is to hold the employer to account if it was their fault and provide you with financial recompense to help you manage the effects of the trauma.
Compensation settlements comprise of two elements. General Damages which aims to financially compensate you for the pain, suffering and affect on your quality of life (called loss of amenity).
Whereas Special Damages are to recompense you for specific financial losses, such as any loss of earnings, medical expenses, transport expenses, disability aids etc.
Another thing to add is that contractors and subcontractors working at the premises of another business are also covered by this ‘duty of care’ responsibility.
So, if you have been injured at other premises, and it was someone else’s fault, speak to a claims advisor and see if you have a valid case.
How Much Does It Cost To Claim?
If wish to engage a legal firm the first step is to discuss your claim. This is free and without obligation to continue.
If they determine you have a valid claim, and you wish to proceed, they can handle the case for you on a no-win-no-fee basis, meaning you do not have to pay any upfront fees.
With their help, if your case is successful, they will then take their legal fees out of the settlement figure.
If you have suffered injury or harm in a workplace accident, where your employer failed to ensure your safety, you can seek to make a claim for financial compensation.
Claims Compass can help. If you want to know more, or wish to discuss your case further, complete the online form and let the professionals help you get the compensation you deserve.