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Work Illness Claim

The Prevalence of Work Illness in the UK

According to the Health and Safety Executive Statistics for 2009/10, more than 2 million current or former employees were suffering from a work illness in the UK which they believed was caused or made worse by their existing or past work. The figures go on to reveal that an estimated 8,000 cancer deaths each year are attributable to past exposure to occupational carcinogens, and as many as 15 per cent of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases may be related to a work illness in the UK.

The degree of work illness does not need to be so life-shattering in order to be of concern to the Health and Safety Executive and the individual who is affected. Painful repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and those sustained by the constant use of vibrating tools and machinery are classified as a work illness in the UK, and in a study of 1,000 British office workers by Microsoft in 2008, it was found that more than two-thirds of employees suffered from some level of RSI – with two thirds of health and safety officers to whom these injuries were reported failing to resolve the problem.

Qualifying for a Work Illness Claim

In order to qualify for a work illness claim in the UK, you must have sustained some form of personal injury due to the negligence of an employer. Employers have a duty of care to provide you with a safe environment in which to work, and should you become ill due to their lack of care, you are entitled to make a claim for work illness.

It is essential that you seek medical attention as soon as you believe that you have sustained a work illness of any nature. To delay treatment of a work illness may make the condition irreversible and your employer may claim that you contributed to your work illness by your own lack of care. Even when there is no physical evidence of a work illness, you should still get advice from your family GP. A psychosomatic or psychological work illness can be caused by bullying or stress, and many RSI-type injuries are non-anatomical – meaning that your doctor will confirm that your work illness exists, but cannot diagnose a specific medical condition.

Before Making a Work Illness Claim

As well as making it a priority to speak with your doctor, there are several other steps you should take prior to making a work illness claim in the UK.

  • First you should report your work illness to your employer. If you have been given a Statement of Fitness for Work note by your doctor (the old “sick note”), your employer will be aware that you have developed a work illness and may be absent for some time. If you contracted your work illness in a previous employment, you should contact your former employer and advise them of your work illness. They should then make a report of your work illness in their “Accident Report Book” and inform the Health and Safety Executive or local authority depending on what nature of business they are in.
  • Secondly, you should speak with the people you work with or former colleagues to establish whether they are aware of similar incidents of work illness. They too may have symptoms of an illness which they did not realise was associated with their work and may be able to support your work illness claim by acting as witnesses for you.
  • Most employers will be genuinely upset to learn that their negligence has caused you to sustain a work illness and will often help in any way they can. It is in your best interests not to accept any financial assistance from your employer at this stage, as this may compromise your work illness claim when his public liability insurance company try to negotiate a lower settlement for you.

Free Work Illness Claim Advice

Inasmuch as you should not be penalised in any way for making a work illness claim against an employer, there are some instances when an employer does not adhere to employment law regulations. Therefore it is in your best interests to speak with a legal expert and discuss your entitlement to claim for work illness with somebody who can give you impartial and accurate advice.

For this reason we have set up a free claims advice service which you are invited to call if you have sustained a work illness which you believe is due to the negligence of your employer. Our service enables you to speak directly with a solicitor who is experienced in employment law and claims for work illness in the UK. There is no obligation on you to proceed with a work illness claim once you have spoken with us and all calls to our free claims advice service are strictly confidential.