Recently, I was involved in an incident where an employee sprayed air from one of the compressed tanks we use for the soda machines at my face, resulting in my loss of hearing for three seconds following.

I reported the incident as soon as I was able to get one of my managers one-on-one, and while the incident has been reported and a punishment issued (no idea how much further it’ll go for the other person), I have had a sore throat and a rather nasty cough for the last three days. For context, this happened on a Saturday evening.

I have an appointment to see HR this afternoon and provide more details and sign off on their report, but I don’t know whether I should mention my doctor’s appointment as well.

I will be mentioning this incident to my doctor since I feel there is a possibility it is related to my current condition. However, I cannot come to a decision as to whether to inform HR. It seems like I should, but I do not want to cast suspicions or otherwise alter anyone’s perspectives without knowing for certain or with a great deal of certainty that this current ailment is related to this incident, especially since I will be seeing the doctor for another issue that has been present since before Saturday.

My question is simple: Do I inform HR now or wait for the doctor’s conclusion to say anything?

  • 16
    You should also tell your doctor (front desk clerk) up-front that this might turn into a worker's compensation claim. There's special paperwork for that. The urgent care facility that I use has a checkbox on their form, for instance.
    – mkennedy
    Aug 23, 2018 at 16:35
  • 9
    I cannot understand why compressed air would cause a sore throat or a bad cough. Sounds like you have an infection?
    – JonH
    Aug 23, 2018 at 16:52
  • 24
    @JonH, when air is compressed, it's usually also dried to prevent rust build-up in the tank. When it expands again, it cools off dramatically; a compressed-air nozzle can cool to the point that ice forms on it even in the summer. Your throat does not do well in extremely cold, dry air.
    – Mark
    Aug 23, 2018 at 21:14
  • 3
    @BenCrowell I mean yes, but there’s no existing record on this site of what to do if an illness/injury is suspected following a workplace accident or incident. What may be common knowledge to the average person may not be to younger or less experienced persons such as myself.
    – Pleiades
    Aug 24, 2018 at 4:05
  • 8
    @BenCrowell Didn't we abolish the too localised close reason long ago?
    – Belle
    Aug 24, 2018 at 6:25

2 Answers 2


Do I inform HR now


At this point since HR is involved, be open and honest and tell them everything related to the incident. If you're going to the doctor due to what happened, then yes you need to tell them.

I am not a fan of getting HR involved in anything unless you have to, but when you do, be completely transparent as it relates to the incident HR is involved in. Lying or omitting anything will look very bad on you should it come out down the road.

  • 4
    Yep. Let HR decide what is and isn't relevant to this situation.
    – user44108
    Aug 23, 2018 at 13:29
  • 2
    If it does come out that my illness is related to this incident, what would my course of action be from there? (Might be better as a separate question but someone I know keeps mentioning that it’s a workman comp thing and I am COMPLETELY in the dark on that)
    – Pleiades
    Aug 23, 2018 at 13:56
  • 3
    @Pleiades I would assume that you would be paid if you were unable to work due to the fact that you were injured on the job. That being said, see what HR says, and if its not fair get a lawyer. These laws differ state to state. This will also depend on how long you need to recover.
    – Neo
    Aug 23, 2018 at 13:59
  • 1
    You might want to seek some advise from a Union rep, as they often make sure the company isn't cutting any corners.
    – 3kstc
    Aug 24, 2018 at 3:21
  • 2
    @Pleiades If it does turn out that your illness is related to the incident, and said illness is even moderately serious (rather than, "oh, you'll just have a sore throat for a few days"), I'd strongly recommend to talk to a lawyer (if you are a member of a union, they likely have lawyers on hand). You might have a strong case for compensation.
    – Doc
    Aug 24, 2018 at 4:40

Since your HR appointment is scheduled before the appointment with your doctor, I don't see how waiting for the doctor's conclusion is an option.

During your meeting with the HR you should mention your health issues, and that you're currently not certain whether these are related to the incident or to a condition you had since before Saturday. Tell them when your doctor's appointment is, and ask them if they will want any special forms filled by the doctor.

This will give the HR a clear deadline for gathering all the information, after which they will be able to decide how to proceed.

  • 2
    Don't mention a possible previous condition. Let the doctor figure that out.
    – Summer
    Aug 24, 2018 at 14:52

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