Care Work Accidents
If you have been injured in an accident as a care worker we may be able to help you claim the compensation you deserve
What is a care worker?
A carer, or care worker, is somebody who cares for someone else, or a group of people, usually at home or in a residential home. Care workers include care assistants in care homes, live-in carers, nursing home assistants, dementia carers, and many more.
Some work in the wider community – called domiciliary carers. Care workers can also work on a voluntary basis – for example for a charity.
Care roles can be very varied but typically include:
- Helping with daily personal care like showering and dressing.
- Assisting people to eat and drink.
- Checking medical conditions and helping with medication.
- Helping vulnerable people with social and physical activities.
- Booking and taking people to appointments.
Due to the nature of this type of work, care work accidents are very common, and can vary from sprains, back, neck, and shoulder injuries, to attacks and falls.
What are the causes of care work accidents?
Being a carer is hugely rewarding but can also be emotionally and physically demanding. Consequently, there are many causes of care work accidents, including:
- Injuries sustained whilst caring for a service user, including lifting and handling.
- injuries due to the incorrect number of staff, or insufficient staff, being allocated to service users.
- Not being provided with adequate training on lifting and moving service users.
You also may suffer other types of injury whilst at work, including road traffic accidents, slips, trips and falls, or an attack. If this is the case, someone else may still be at fault for your accident.
If you have had an accident due to any of these reasons, then your employer may be at fault.
Injuries due to care work accidents
The most common type of care work accidents are back injuries. The Health and Safety Executive states that the health and social care industry is amongst the highest for accidents causing Musculoskeletal disorders (problems in joints, muscles and tendons), with an average of 2,120 cases per 100,000 workers. These injuries, while not fatal, can cause pain and suffering for a long time, and can be serious.
Common care work injuries:
- Manual handling injuries like strains, sprains and fractures, particularly to the hand, wrist and spine – for instance a slipped disc.
- Repetitive strain injuries from repeated activities without sufficient, training, breaks, personal protective equipment (PPE) and health and safety assessments.
- Needlestick injuries while handling sharp items that may be contaminated, causing puncture wounds.
- Burn or scalding injuries while preparing food or drinks.
- Physical assaults by residents.
If you’re a carer injured at work through no fault of yours, then we may be able to help you make a work injury compensation claim.
Taking time off work
A major aspect that worries those who have had care work accidents is taking time off work. When an accident at work causes an injury, you may have to take an extended period of sick leave, meaning you only get statutory sick pay. This is usually less than you would earn whilst being at work, so some people may rush back to work prematurely.
Whilst we understand that this can cause stress, the solicitors we work with can help you recover the earnings you may have lost due to having to take time off sick to recover.
Who is at fault?
While every care work accident case varies, there are some factors that determine who is at fault. An example of this is if you have had a lack of training on how to correctly lift service users. In this case, your employer may be at fault. There are also instances where repetitive movements may have caused your care work injuries.
Your employer has a clear legal responsibility to make sure you are safe in the workplace. This is especially important in the role of a carer, as you are directly responsible for another person or persons. Other examples of cases where employers fail in their duty of care include:
- Not providing the correct equipment for you to effectively care for a service user.
- Having inadequate staffing levels to ensure all service users are being managed safely and correctly.
- Not maintaining equipment needed.
- Failure to provide the correct PPE.
Employers who don’t properly apply health and safety regulations like the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 put you at risk unnecessarily. They have what’s called a duty of care.
If any of the above applies, then your employer may be responsible for your accident, as they need to take reasonable precautions to avoid care work injuries.
What if I’m attacked at work by someone I’m caring for?
According to the GMB Union, in the five years from 2013 to 2018 there were over 6,034 violent assaults on care workers resulting in serious injuries reported to the Health and Safety Executive. These were mainly made by residents in their care, many of whom had mental health-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
It’s no surprise that workers can feel defenceless and vulnerable, but employers have a duty of care to prevent assaults on care workers. Care homes and nursing homes are all subjected to the same Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 legislation as all other workplaces in the UK. They should assess the risks to employees and must use processes that ensure the care home is safe and employees are protected from assault.
Care home operators should also have a policy for managing aggressive residents, and offer training to:
- spot the warning signs.
- defuse incidents or avoid risks.
- protect carers if an assault happens.
What should I do if I’m injured or assaulted at work?
Your priority must be to seek immediate medical attention. As soon as you can, you should do the following:
- Report the incident to your manager.
- Involve the police if it’s a deliberate assault.
- Ensure the incident is recorded in the company accident book.
- If you’re a trade union member, tell your rep. They can provide you with support for workplace accidents.
- Get any witnesses to make statements.
Your employer must report certain accidents and injuries to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under RIDDOR. These are the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
I’m worried about losing my job if I make a work accident claim against my employer?
Your job should not be put at risk for making a workplace accident compensation claim. If your employer tries to make you redundant or make your life at work so unbearable you end up leaving, you may have a case for unfair or constructive dismissal.
I’m a voluntary care worker – what are my rights?
All volunteer workers are covered by the same health and safety legislation as employees, contractors, or sub-contractors. All voluntary organisations must have employers’ liability insurance, to cover their workers even if they’re working in an unpaid capacity for a charity.
How we can help
Here at The Compensation Experts, the solicitors we work with deal with care work accidents every day, so they are well placed to help you get the compensation you may be entitled to. Contact us today by filling in our online contact form. Alternatively, call us on 01614138765 to speak to one of our friendly knowledgeable agents.