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Excessive working hours results in accident – is the employer responsible?

by Wallis_Helen on August 22, 2013

These days many people work long hours in difficult, demanding and, often, stressful jobs. And in today’s uncertain economic climate, employees can feel pressured to take on even more work in order to pay the bills.

Working excessive hours will, more often than not, lead to tiredness, and tiredness in the work place can be dangerous. Whether you’re handling heavy machinery, driving long distances or dealing with the public, working too many hours can have serious consequences.

So whatever your job, make sure you know your rights when it come to fatigue and accidents in the work place.

What are the employer’s responsibilities?

No matter what field of work you are employed in, your employer has a legal responsibility to protect you from accidents in the work place. This means that they must inform you of all of the risks of your job, make sure all equipment is safe to use and ensure that proper health and safety standards are in place.

They also have a duty to ensure that your work doesn’t lead you to becoming so tired or fatigued that you put yourself, or others, at risk.

If you work in a job that requires irregular work patterns, night work, strenuous physical activity or long periods of driving, you are especially at risk of becoming over tired through work.

In these cases your employer should take this into account and implement precautions to ensure that tiredness is kept to a minimum. This could include scheduling regular breaks or stating a maximum number of days or hours that can be worked without time off.

It is in the employer’s interest to ensure that all employees are alert and able to do their jobs to the highest standard. Although tiredness may be inevitable in some work, minimizing the consequences is beneficial for everyone.

What are the Employee’s responsibilities?

As an employee, you have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, but you also have responsibilities of your own for the well being of yourself and your colleagues.

This means that if you are tired at work, you should tell your employer as soon as possible. If they don’t listen to your concerns, you have the right to contact the Health and Safety Executive without being disciplined at work.

You are required to take reasonable care not to put yourself or others in danger, so try and get as much rest as you can outside of work. If you’re taking any medications that may make you drowsy, inform your employer before you commence your shift.

What can you do to prevent an accident?

Most accidents happen in the afternoon. If you’ve started work early, this will often be the time when your energy levels are lowest so you can easily have a lapse in concentration.

Traffic accidents are especially more common in the afternoon, so if you drive a lot for work, this is when you may be most at risk.

To try and protect yourself and others from injury, try and take regular breaks. Make sure you eat a good lunch so your body has fuel for working and keep hydrated throughout the day.

If you do have an accident, report it

All work places should keep a book recording any accidents that happen, and all employees should know where this record is kept. Only very small companies are exempt from keeping a record. If you are injured at work, make sure that you write down the details in the log.

This will not only be beneficial if you ever wanted to make a claim against your employer, but will help to ensure that working practices are improved so that someone else doesn’t suffer a similar accident

Wallis_Helen
Professional writer with a keen interest in law.

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