What should I do if I hurt myself at work?
What to do if an injury occurs, and some common scenarios for blame.
It isn’t a scenario we like to think about, but if you work in a physical job, there is always a chance that you could hurt yourself. Even if you work at a desk, it is important to be aware of the potential safety hazards around you.
It is your employer’s responsibility to provide appropriate PPE, but it is your responsibility to wear it. Proper protection and safety protocol is the best way to prevent accidents, and prevention is always better than a cure.
That said, accidents happen. So, what should you do if you hurt yourself at work?
Tell your supervisor
It can be daunting telling your supervisor that you’re hurt, especially you think you caused the accident. Even so, it is important to let them know. They may need to remove others from the situation or even close off an area of your workplace.
Your supervisor will also be able to direct you towards a first aider. Often, the person in charge is also the one with first aid training, but not always. Seeking first aid is vital for ensuring your injury does not become worse than it needs to.
IF your injury is very bad, a first aider can advise you to seek further medical attention. They may also be able to give you something to reduce pain and discomfort while you wait for an ambulance or doctor.
If you are seriously injured and need an ambulance, call 000 to arrange one.
Note: If anyone is unconscious or having trouble breathing, skip step 1 and call an ambulance immediately. If anyone is displaying symptoms of a heart attack, stroke or abnormal (for them) seizure, call an ambulance immediately.
Work out whether you need to report it
According to Australian law, your employer must report any serious incidents that occur. In the same way that they are required to provide adequate PPE, your employer – or another person who conducts a business and undertaking (PCBU) is responsible for reporting notifiable incidents immediately.
They define notifiable incidents as:
- the death of a person
- a ‘serious injury or illness’, or
- a ‘dangerous incident’ arising out of the conduct of a business or undertaking at a workplace.
Australian PCBUs are required to report any notifiable incident that involves any person, including members of the public and contractors.
Common Workplace Injury Scenarios
What happens if I am unable to work?
If you are injured so badly that you are unable to work, you may be eligible for compensation. Even if the accident was your, or your employer’s fault, you can usually still claim money to cover things like medical bills, lost wages and travel.
The rules and processes vary by state. The Fair Work Ombudsman has a list of the relevant association for each state. Contact the worker's compensation regulator for the state you live to find out if you are eligible for compensation.
Even if you think you won’t be eligible, it is always worth checking
What if my employer has been negligent?
If something your employer has done – or failed to do – has caused your injury, you are entitled to bring a common law claim against them. To win a common law claim, you need to be able to prove that your employer was negligent.
If your past, present or future earning potential has been reduced by your employer’s negligence, you could win this back from a successful claim. You can also claim additional living expenses, medical costs and compensation for pain and suffering.
Your employer should offer you an apology for the incident, as this is the best way to repair the working relationship. You should realise, though, that your employer’s apology is not equal to an admission of guilt, and is protected as such by your state’s relevant act.
There is no set way for your employer to apologise, but the sooner and more sincere the better. In Queensland, for example, the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 notes that:
The apology or expression of regret will have more impact if it is:
- Given as soon as practicable
- Delivered from the people directly involved (such as the person that allegedly caused harm) or a representative with authority (such as a manager or supervisor)
- Genuine and sincere, noting that an effective apology or expression of regret depends on the way it is delivered, including the tone of voice and non-verbal communication
- Phrased so that it is clear on what is being done to address the situation
- Contains the words 'i am sorry' or 'we are sorry'.
What if it was my fault?
If you have been in an accident that was your fault, you are still entitled to ‘no fault’ statutory claim for workers’ compensation. The ‘no fault’ aspect means you are not required to prove that the accident was not your fault.
You do, however, have to prove that the accident happened at work. You can either submit the claim yourself or hire a lawyer to do it for you.
What if it was no one’s fault?
If the accident that caused your injury was no one’s fault, you are again entitled to ‘no fault’ statutory claim for workers’ compensation. You still have to prove that the incident happened at work, even if you are not suing your employer.
What should I do if I hurt myself at work?
Getting injured at work can be extremely stressful, but all Australian states have systems in place to protect you. Regardless of whose fault an accident was, you might be entitled to compensation to cover loss of wages and other expenses.
Often, disputes that occur because of an accident can be dealt with by communicating with your employer. In other cases, you can take legal action against an employer you believe to have been negligent.
Examples of negligence include failing to provide adequate safety matting or otherwise neglecting the duty of care that every employer has for their workers. We cannot offer legal advice here at Matshop, but we can recommend the best mats for every workplace.
For help preventing accidents – including slips, trips and falls – reach out to one of the team or browse the full range of non-slip mats.