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Health and safety at work

Health and safety at work should be basic rights. No one goes to work expecting to be injured.

All workplaces in Great Britain, regardless of size and nature of business, are covered by The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

This is an important piece of legislation that aims to protect workers from the risk of injury or ill health; it covers temporary, agency or casual workers as well as permanent staff.

Within the Act there are separate regulations covering specific areas of work, but the basic principles are to:

  1. Provide a safe working environment that is properly maintained and ensure operations within in it are conducted safely. This requires employers to carry out risk assessments and to ensure that any risks identified are properly addressed; and
  2. Ensure adequate training for staff so that health and safety procedures are understood and adhered to.

Workplace injury

You’d expect that with rigorous health and safety regulations in place for almost 50 years, people would be safe at work by now. But, last year almost 1.7 million suffered some form of workplace illness. This figure includes physical injury, death, musculoskeletal injury and work-related stress.

Our personal injury lawyers work with clients suffering from a wide range of workplace injury. Sadly, we also work with bereaved families when their loved one has a fatal accident at work.

Recovering compensation

The amount of compensation we are able to recover depends on a number of things, including the degree of injury and the impact it had on the client. Recent cases include:

Occupational asthma – our client was a railway worker who was made redundant because of ill health. During his employment he was exposed to dust from grinding work and fumes from epoxy resin paints, and as a result he developed occupational asthma. His condition caused significant disability which has impacted greatly on his state of mind. Had his employer followed proper health and safety guidance, particularly with regard to ventilation and training, the illness could have been avoided. Compensation of £110,000 was secured for the client.

Back injury – this client worked in retail and part of her job involved moving stock from the delivery bay to the storeroom and carrying stock from the storeroom to the shop floor. When a job involves manual handling, the risk assessment needs to take into consideration the height, weight and capability of the worker in relation to the loads to be moved. In this case the risk was not assessed. The weight was excessive and as a result, our client sustained a back injury that has dramatically altered her life. Compensation in excess of £65,000 was secured for the client.

Find out more about workplace injury and how we can help here:

 

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Child killed in farm accident: mum warns of dangers

The family of a child killed in a farm accident have called on those living on farms to be more aware of the dangers all around them.

Four-year old Harry Lee was fatally injured when he fell from the footplate of a vehicle being driven by his uncle, Brian Nutter. As the vehicle turned into a field, Harry fell and was crushed under the wheels.

Harry’s heartbroken mum, Sarah Nutter said: “Losing a child at any age is a traumatic experience, but losing a child in such deeply tragic circumstances is completely life changing.
“Farming is a lifestyle and a way of life. If we could go back and make different decisions and do things differently, we would certainly do so. We have had to learn the hard way.

“The dangers to children on farms are often not appreciated when you live with them, but they should be at the forefront of all our minds every single day.

“I hope the effects of Harry’s accident will change the attitude of people living on farms and make them think twice about the dangers their children are exposed to and how easily accidents can be avoided.”

Diane Parker, specialist personal injury solicitor, commented: “This case is nothing short of tragic and our deepest sympathies are with Harry’s family.

“Each year, children are killed or seriously injured on farms and often, as in this case, the child is a close relative of the farmer or someone working on the farm.

“Farms may seem like exciting places to children, but it is illegal to let a child under the age of 13 ride on or operate farm machinery. There needs to be a clear barrier that signifies where playing stops and work starts. After all, no other industry would allow children in the workplace.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the accident and found there was insufficient measures in place to ensure the safety of children on the farm.

Brian Nutter, already traumatised by his nephew’s death, narrowly escaped a prison sentence after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work act 1974.

HSE inspector, Shellie Bee, said: “The best way to keep children safe, particularly young children, is to keep them out of the farm workplace altogether. If taken onto the farm, to working areas, this must be carefully planned. The child should be fully supervised by a responsible adult who is not engaged in any other activity.”

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Health and safety failures led to workers death crash

A string of health and safety failures led to the death of two welders who were killed as they drove back to Doncaster in their company van.

The driver, Zac Payne (20) had just finished a 25 hour shift when he and his colleague Michael Morris (48) set off on a 140 mile journey back to the firm’s Doncaster depot, in June 2013.

Both men were killed when Mr Payne fell asleep at the wheel and their van crashed into the back of a parked HGV on the A1, near Claypole.

After a lengthy and complex trial, railway contactor, Renown Consultants Limited was found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of its workers.

The company had breached working time limits for safety critical work, which states that there must be a minimum rest period of 12 hours between booking off one job and starting another.

In a further failing, despite the company’s insurance policy stipulating that drivers must be over 25 years, Mr Payne, along with other under 25s were regularly allowed to drive company vans.

In a virtual sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court, the judge said that Renown had failed to comply with its own fatigue management procedures and that managers had showed a “wilful blindness” towards the risks of driving between jobs.

The company was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £300,000.

Diane Parker, personal injury solicitor commented: “This was a tragic incident that has left two families devastated.

The risks of fatigue and driving long distances are very well known. This is a prime example of what happens when you have policies and procedures in place but then fail to implement them.

Unfortunately, we see this kind of incident far too much – it often comes down to profit before safety.”

In addition to the fine and costs already imposed for health and safety failures, the company could face further significant costs should the families pursue personal injury compensation.