work place safety

Accidents at work – latest statistics from The Health & Safety Executive

The latest statistics from the Health & Safety Executive covering 2016:

  • 1.3 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 2,515 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures
  • 144 workers killed at work
  • 72,702 other injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 621,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £14.1 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions

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health and safety

FFI? Health & Safety wheeze about to hit the buffers?

FFIas acronyms go it’s an ‘open goal’...if you’re looking for a cheap larf that is.

As ideas go, FFI is more of an ‘own goal’ but it ain’t no laughing matter because this particular Government wheeze, introduced last October, is helping to undermine 170 years of progress in workplace safety.

The evidence is that the scheme is spectacularly failing to deliver on its key objective which is: to make companies pay for Health & Safety Executive visits where breaches of health and safety regulations have occurred.

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The Dave-Vince Code: an alchemist’s cookbook for workplace injury and social injustice.

The Dave-Vince Code: an alchemist's cookbook for workplace injury and social injustice.

Image: Zimbio

‘Occult futurists’, Prime Minister David Cameron (Dave) and Business Secretary Vince Cable (Vince), have together developed a secret plan ‘The Dave-Vince Code’ which is designed to dismantle health and safety legislation in the UK on the spurious grounds that less regulation will free up business to create jobs and grow the economy.

We believe that this Code is an invidious and systematic assault on the right of workers and the general public to expect the highest possible standards of protection from hazards and threats to health and the right to fair compensation if accidents occur. 

We shall lay bare some of the key tenets of the Code as illustrated by the pronoucements of Dave and Vince and demonstrate the flawed thinking and (sometimes) blatant subterfuge employed to bolster party political dogma and the vested interest of the insurance companies.   

 

Dave – 1st Dec 2009, interview in The Telegraph: 

“I want to exempt entire categories of workers and organisations from the fear of litigation or prosecution because of ‘over-the-top’ health and safety rules.”
 
“A Conservative government would amend the Compensation Act to abolish negligence claims for activities where it should be obvious there is a risk-for example, sport and adventure training.”

It is only some organisation’s fear of litigation that keeps many workers safeand we know how often THAT works.

Thus the early clues to the Code were embedded back in 2009. What the then future PM was saying loud and clear was that he would abolish negligence claims for dangerous activities.So, the activities known to be dangerous will remain dangerous,and if you participate in any of them and get injured – tough luck. Tell that to Sarah (see video testimonial: http://www.bonnarandco.com ) 

 

Dave – 10th July 2010, commenting on Lord Young’s report, ‘Common Sense – Common Safety’:

“It is is clear from Lord Young’s work that there was ‘too much intrusion’ into everyday life from health and safety bureaucracy.”
 
“He has done a brilliant job helped by members of the public who have been sending in examples, including a schoolteacher who sent in a ten-page form that has to be filled out when you do any sort of school trip.”

The only thing that is clear is that the PM has swallowed the potion concocted by the insurance industry and tabloid press that has made him immune to rational thinking on health and safety matters and oblivious to the concerns of the public.

 

Dave – 5th Jan 2012 in repsonse to the Lofstedt report, ‘Reclaiming Health & safety For All’:

“Health and safety can too often sound farcial or marginal..so there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.”

“So one of the Coalition’s New Year resolutions is this: kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we banished a lot of this pointless time-wasting from the economy and British life once and for all.”

‘Farcical and marginal’ – ironic or what? Now it’s all out war on the nation’s health and safety infrastructure. An invidious mantra indeed for a nation’s leader…made more invidious by his hi-jacking of Professor Lofstedt’s report and crass manipulation of it’s findings – see below.   

 

Dave – 14th Feb 2012 insurance industry summit, 10 Downing Street:

“I am determined to tackle this damaging compensation culture which has been pushing up premiums. I want to stop trivial claims, free up businesses from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape and look at ways we can bring costs down.”

“The insurance industry plays such an important part in all our lives – it is there to help when we are at our most vulnerable and at greatest need. But I want to ensure that we all do what we can to help people through this difficult time.”

The PM’s psychophantic eulogising of the insurance industry illustrated his total conversion to the ‘dark side’ of the health and safety debate and his refusal to meet with the Unions or APIL, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, confirmed his intention to ignore the legitimate concerns of millions of ordinary people.

Note to PM and ABI – injured people and their families are voters too and they pay insurance premiums.

 Vince – Federation of Small Business Conference, 23 March 2012:

“…But there is another issue that blights your working lives and stands in your way as you strive to grow your business – and that’s the burden of red tape and regulation. So I would like to say a little about that before I close.”

The one true blight of working lives in this country right now is not the ‘red tape’ restricting growth but the coalition’s determination to roll back 175 years of progress and take working conditions back to Victorian Britain. 

Even the entrepreneurial Americans don’t buy the argument that health and safety regulations damage jobs ( http://news.bonnarandco.com/us-health-and-safety-laws-are-good-for-busine). So just what book of alchemist spells are Dave and Vince reading?

Vince – 10th September 2012, announcing ‘bonfire’ of health & safety regulations in parliament:

“Businesses need to focus on creating jobs and growth rather than “being tied up in unnecessary red tape. I’ve listened to those concerns and we’re determined to put common sense back into areas like health and safety, which will reduce costs and fear of burdensome inspections.”

“From April 2013, only companies operating in high risk areas such as construction or with a track record of poor performance will face regular visits from safety inspectors.

By ensuring regulation becomes a last resort, we will create an environment that frees business from the burden of red tape,helping to create the right conditions for recovery and growth in the UK economy

Despite the evidence of decades and a litany of public and private tragedies – Aberfan, Flixborough, Piper Alpha – plus countless unpublicised avoidable accidents, are we to simply believe that cutting back on health and safety regulation will make our economy stronger and our living and working environments safer?

We’d sooner believe that Dave and Vince can create gold from base metal. 

FOOTNOTE TO THE SNEAKY AND THE SCURRILOUS:

How this government is blatantly ignoring its own commissioned research and is actively engaged on a process of regulatory vandalism which WILL result in loss of life, serious injury and long-term health problems for this nation’s workforce.

If anyone is unfortunate enough to get injured at work or to contract an occupational illness they can look forward to a very difficult AND GROSSLY ONE-SIDED fight for justice and fair compensation.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE AND A SCANDAL, PERPRETATED BY A GOVERNMENT THAT HAS TOTALLY BOUGHT INTO THE DECEITFUL AND VINDICTIVE APPROACH OF THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IN ITS EFFORTS TO CUT ITS COSTS AND BOOST ITS PROFITS.

IS IT REALLY TOO MUCH TO EXPECT BETTER FROM A GOVERNMENT?

HERE’S THE TRUTH …  

In October 2012 the government announced an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. The new Business minister, Matthew Hancock, told MPs this was based on Professor Löfstedt’s recommendations and would remove the concept of “strict liability” – whereby companies are liable for injuries regardless of negligence if certain health and safety rules are breached.

“The fear of being sued drives businesses to exceed what is required by the criminal law, diverting them from focusing on sensible preventive health and safety management and resulting in unnecessary costs and burdens,” he said.

However, the Löfstedt review did not call for the blanket removal of strict liability. Instead it called for a review of where strict liability was necessary. “These proposals were sneaked into the Bill at the last possible moment after the legislation had been through committee.”
 

What Professor Ragnar Lofstedt really thinks about the removal of strict liability.

‘Reclaiming health & safety for all: a review of progress one year on.’
January 2013

Page 11, paragraph 30:

An amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13 is being used by the Government to deliver the recommendation on strict liability. The amendment has proved to be highly controversial and has provoked much debate, including amongst the members of my Advisory Panel.

I have also been lobbied by many interested stakeholders including personal injury law firms and trades unions.
 
My understanding is that the proposed amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act reverses the current position on civil liability. This means that, unless exceptions apply, claims for compensation in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation will need to prove that the employer has been negligent.

The approach being taken is more far-reaching than I anticipated in my recommendation and, if this amendment becomes law I hope that the Government will carefully monitor the impact to ensure that there are no unforeseen consequences.

What Professor Lofstedt really said about the EU and health & safety legislation in his original report.

Page 4, paragraph 9

Many of the requirements that originate from the EU would probably exist anyway, and many are contributing to improved health and safety outcomes. There is evidence, however, that a minority impose unnecessary costs on business without obvious benefits. 

 

What Professor Lofstedt really said about health and safety regulations in his original report:

Page 7, para graph 2:

The general sweep of requirements set out in health and safety regulation are broadly fit for purpose.

..and in repsonse to government spin:

“I have neither seen nor heard any evidence to suggest that there is a case for radically altering or stripping back current health and safety regulation.” In general the regulations are “fit for purpose.”

What Professor Lofstedt really said about Health & Safety Executive inspections in his original report:

Page 79, paragraph 2.

The evidence suggests that businesses can benefit from and value inspections, with SMEs welcoming the constructive, reasonable advice and guidance that it can provide to help them improve health and safety in the workplace 200. Nearly nine out of ten employers who have had contact with HSE see it as a ‘helpful’ organisation.

 

What Lord Young really said about the ‘compensation culture in ‘Common Sense – Common Safety.’

Page 19:

Britain’s ‘compensation culture’ is fuelled by media stories about individuals receiving large compensation payouts for personal injury claims and by constant adverts in the media offering people non-refundable inducements and the promise of a handsome settlement if they claim.

It places an unnecessary strain on businesses of all sizes, who fear litigation and are subjected to increasingly expensive insurance premiums.

The problem of the compensation culture prevalent in society today is, however, one of perception rather than reality.

 

Written by Andy Thorogood, Business Development Manager, Bonnar Accident Law.

Marks & Spencer fined £1 million over asbestos risk

High Street giants Marks & Spencer suffered a spectacular fall from grace on Tuesday when the company was fined £1 million for putting customers and staff at risk of exposure to asbestos in its Reading store.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of £600,000 at the sentencing hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court. Contractors working on the refurbishment of the Broad Street store were also handed fines of £100,000 and £50,000 for breaches of Health & Safety Regulations.  

Despite government pronouncements that retail environments are inherently safe and that industry needs only a ‘light touch’ approach when assessing risks to health and safety, these serious shortcomings on the part of a highly respected UK business suggest that the opposite is true.

If a household name like Marks & Spencer can fall foul of health & safety legislation we should be very concerned about lapses in standards across the country, especially in the current economic climate when the temptation exists to save money by cutting corners on worker and public safety.

Construction workers continue to be at high risk of serious injury or death and we echo the comments made by Richard Boland, the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) Southern head of operations for construction who said:

“This outcome should act as a wake up call that any refurbishment programmes involving asbestos-containing materials must be properly resourced, both in terms of time and money – no matter what.”

Bonnar & Company Solicitors specialises in accident and work and industrial disease compensation claims. Call us free on 0800 163 978 for impartial expert legal advice.  

McDonalds prosecuted over acid injury to worker

Fast food giant McDonalds has paid out more than £20,000 after one of its employees was partially blinded by an acid-based cleaner.

According to Wandsworth Council, the court fine was the result of the first successful prosecution against McDonalds in the UK over an accident in the workplace.

The burger chain was taken to court by the council under safety at work laws after a member of staff suffered burns to his face and eyes that has left him with only around 55 per cent vision in his left eye. The injuries were caused when the man, who was working as a maintenance operative at the company’s Wandsworth Bridge drive-thru restaurant, used an acid-based drain cleaner to unblock a waste pipe.

Last month, South Western magistrates court heard that on June 23, 2008, the employee, with the full knowledge of his manager, bought a corrosive chemical drain cleaner from a nearby DIY store. The first attempt at using the sulphuric acid-based cleaner did not work and so the employee was given money by a manager to buy a second bottle. When this bottle was poured into the pipe, its contents blew back into the employee’s face and both his eyes. He was given first aid at the scene before being taken to hospital by ambulance.

Following treatment he recovered almost all the vision in his right eye but much less in his left eye.

The council’s environment spokesman Councillor Sarah McDermott said: “Their member of staff was given money by his managers to buy a very hazardous product.

“No risk assessment was carried out to ensure this product was safe to use, he was not properly supervised while using it, he was not given any training to reduce the risk of an accident, nor was he provided with protective clothing. This was a serious lapse in the company’s internal procedures.”

A spokesman for McDonalds said: “We are very sorry for the eye injury incurred by our staff member. We regret that on this occasion our stringent safety procedures were not followed and we have taken steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

So, despite Lord Young’s pronouncement that retail environments are basically low risk and his recommendation to government that employers should be allowed to cut back on risk assessment, reality bites back in the shape of a partially blinded worker.

If highly successful ‘public spirited’ firms are committing such breaches of health and safety legislation, we fear for the welfare of the hundreds of thousands of workers employed by small firms when our government seems hell-bent on allowing a laissez-faire attitude to health and safety issues to prevail.

If you have been hurt or injured at work please contact us for a completely free, no obligation review of your case on 0800 163 978.