By Katarzyna Szczygiel
Just before the end of a long workday on Thursday, November 19, 2020, Jaroslaw was working alone, removing bricks that had been torn down. The brick lay all over the place on the floor, in the dark room, and suddenly Jaroslaw stumbled on the bricks and twisted his knee.
Jaroslaw was working for Denmark's largest contractor, Per Aarsleff A / S, on the construction of Denmark's new Natural History Museum (SNM), since March 2020. Here he works with about 60 other Polish concrete workers, all of whom are employed by Per Aarsleff A/S .
Jaroslaw is an experienced construction worker with several years of experience, and like so many other experienced construction workers, he has tried to twist his ankle or knee, many times at work, without it being serious. It happens from time to time that you get injured when you work hard. Especially at the end of a 10 hour work day. It does not tend to be serious, and the pain tends to go away again if you cool it down with ice, and keep it calm overnight. Therefore, Jaroslaw did not immediately report his work accident to the construction management in Per Aarsleff, but stumbled down to the shed alone, where all his colleagues had just changed clothes, and were on their way home.
But that was not the case this time. The pain in his leg just got worse and worse, and eventually Jaroslaw had to ask a friend to pick him up and drive him to the emergency room. In the emergency room, doctors were able to detect torsional trauma and a fracture of the bone in the left foot.
The story becomes even more muddy
Jaroslaw is discharged from the hospital at 11 pm and immediately writes an SMS to Aarsleff's Polish-speaking office lady at the Natural History Museum that he is ill. But Jaroslaw does not write anything about his work injury. The next day, Friday 20/11, Jaroslaw sleeps late, and he therefore first gets to call and tells the Polish-speaking office lady about the work accident on Monday 23/11.
Because Jaroslaw only reports his work injury orally to the Polish-speaking office lady, it is difficult to know what exactly was said during this conversation, but the Polish-speaking office lady has since admitted that she does not believe in him.
Without notifying Jaroslaw of this, Aarsleff pol's Polish-speaking office lady fails to report Jaroslav's work accident, both to Aarsleff´'s work environment coordinator and to Arbejdsmarkedets Erhvervssikring. And instead of receiving 8 weeks 'sick pay, which you are entitled to according to the agreement, she just reports Jaroslaw as ordinary sick, with the right to only four weeks' sick pay.
After this, the story becomes even more muddy. The Polish-speaking office lady claims that Jaroslaw has reported sick for 4 weeks during the conversation on 23/11, and that over the Christmas holidays she has tried to call Jaroslaw, to ask him if he is still ill. Jaroslaw, for his part, claims that he also tried to call and text Aarsleff´'s Polish-speaking office lady without success. Regardless of who could not get in touch with whom, Aarsleff chooses to dismiss Jaroslaw on January 7, 2021, because they believe that Jaroslaw has not complied with his reporting obligations as ill.
We can not prove that his accident happened at work
All this the union first becomes aware of when Jaroslaw contacts his union on January 8, 2021, when it dawns on him that he has been fired. The union investigates the case, and unfortunately has to admit that Jaroslaw can not prove that his accident happened at work. It is therefore virtually impossible for the union to get Aarsleff to acknowledge that Jaroslav's injury occurred at work.
"In the trade union, we unfortunately experience all too often that employers do not want to recognize work injuries that have not been reported correctly." - says Union Organizer in 3F-BJMF Jakob Mathiassen.
“Especially with relatively minor injuries such as sprains and back pain, colleagues often fail to report their injury to management on the day they are injured. I can well understand that, and may even have been too bad to report my injuries as a soil and concrete worker. After all, all construction workers have experienced being slightly injured many times before, without it being serious. But sometimes it still turns out to be serious, and then we have a problem if we have not been notified of the damage when it happened. " - explains Jakob Mathiassen, who himself worked as a soil and concrete worker in Per Aarsleff in 2018.
At a local bargaining meeting on March 22, 2021, representatives from the work management at SNM, the shop steward Jan Korzun and representatives from 3F-BJMF agree that Jan can get an hour, with pay during working hours, per week, which he can for example can spend on informing his colleagues how important it is to report work accidents immediately and correctly. In future, the Polish-speaking employees at SNM must both call and send e-mail when they are ill. In this way, So that both the employees and the company receive written proof that they have reported sick or with an occupational injury.
The Union recommends
The union always recommends its members to ensure the following when they have an accident at work:
Call 112 if it is serious
If it's a serious accident so you can not go to the emergency room yourself, then always call 112 from the workplace and tell them that it is a work accident. This will ensure that all relevant authorities are involved immediately.
Tell your boss right away
It is important to tell your boss about your injury immediately after the accident, even if you think it is not a serious injury. You must not only tell it to your team leader, you must tell the management in the office, also preferably the safety coordinator, so that it can be notified to the National Board of Industrial Injuries.
Written communication is best
Make sure you have written proof that you have reported your work injury to your employer. For example, send an email, preferably with the injury report from the visit to the doctor.
Contact your doctor immediately
If you get an injury at work, do not wait more than two days before contacting your doctor. This makes it easier to prove that the injury is due to an incident at work. Your injury must be described and the description must be on your E-journal on sundhed.dk. If your boss does not report your injury, you and your doctor can report it.
Do not use the employer's interpreter
Unfortunately, we have experienced many times that the employer's interpreter does not tell the doctor that it is an occupational injury. You must therefore make sure that you have your own interpreter for the Danish doctor. In case of emergency you can use google translate. If you are a member of a union, the union may be able to help you with the interpretation.
See your doctor regularly
Continue going to the doctor with a gap of a maximum of two weeks. In this regard, it is good to have a regular appointment with the doctor about treatments and examinations.
Check your e-box regularly
When the public contacts you about your work injury and any sickness benefits, they do so on E-box. If you do not respond within 8 days after they have written to you, you risk losing your sickness benefits. You should therefore always check your E-box. You must also make sure that your E-box can receive letters from the public. You do this by logging in via: Lifeindenmark.borger.dk/
Contact your union
Contact your union as soon as you get injured, to get more information about your rights, and help to make sure everything is reported correctly.