RoSPA warns Lord Young to focus on safety not cost

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has today warned Lord Young to keep the emphasis on safety, not cost cutting, when he starts consulting on the implementation phase following his recent report, published on 15th October.

We are pleased to read that in response to Lord Young’s report Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, echoed the views of trades unions and health and safety professionals that accident prevention not only saves lives but it saves money – a point hopefully not lost on the noble peer as he seeks to reduce the ‘burden’ on industry of complying with the nation’s health and safety laws.

Mr. Mullarkey said:

“We welcome the opportunity provided by Lord Young’s review to open debate into how accident prevention can contribute to the wellbeing of the nation and reduce costs. There is a great opportunity here for the Government to come up with something progressive and positive – this is a rare silver bullet moment with the opportunity to save lives, reduce injuries and cut costs. As we have said many times, good health and safety is good for everyone. And we’re not just talking about health and safety in workplaces, we are urging the Government to see the bigger picture of accident prevention; for example, if we can save one small child from being seriously burnt that will save the tax payer £250,000 as well as a lifetime of suffering for the child.”

Despite RoSPA’s warning shot we are sorry to say that we are not at all encouraged that Lord Young is aiming to focus on the economic benefits of robust health & safety legislation. The evidence of the report points to an entirely different mindset. Lord Young panders to the myth of a compensation culture and then, bizarrely, perfoms a u-turn by dismissing it as a myth. He goes on to wax lyrical about the cost savings of REDUCING the scope of existing workplace safety regulations and ‘streamlining the bureaucracy’ associated with assuring the safety of members of the public who participate in sports and leisure pursuits.

Furthermore, in a sweeping generalisation comprised of of half truths and ill-judged prejudice, he permits himself to distinguish between low-risk and high-risk situations in a rambling discourse on the perceived  dangers and relative safety of industrial workplace and office environments. We wonder whether Lord Young actually read ANY of the numerous and freely available independent reports on accident cause and prevention when he was compiling his report. If he had he would have noticed that offices and shops can also be hazardous and unhealthy places if safety standards are allowed to slip.  

Lord Young’s report is worryingly biased in scope and worryingly short on ideas which will have a positive impact on the nation’s health and safety. Worker safety is clearly at risk during the up-coming consulting phase on the report’s implementaion. We are very concerned that the voices of reason will be drowned out by the forces of self-interest that would seek to re-create a dismissive, laissez-faire attitude towards health & safety in this country more befitting owners of ‘dark satanic mills’ where worker injury and death were commonplace and accepted norms.

The British public at work and at play deserves much better than to have 150 years of hard won progress on health & safety undermined by the creation of a new mindset which empathises with employers who plead for a less ‘restrictive’ legal framework and outdoor activity organisers who bleat about cost and spurious barriers to their operation.

Bonnar & Company exists to fight for the rights of hurt and injured people and we vigorously oppose any attempt to water down the standard of health and safety regulations in the UK.  We deal with the damage caused by those who choose to bypass or ignore the existing laws, so heaven knows what’s in store if we allow our health and safety legislation to be pared back to suit short-term and woefully misguided commercial interests.

If you have been hurt or injured in an accident at work, on the road or in a public place, or if you have developed an industrial illness or disease, you can call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for no obligation expert legal advice from a personal injury solicitor.

A bad seven days for health and safety, says TUC

Cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and to local authority budgets announced in the spending review will make it easier for rogue employers to take unacceptable risks with the health and safety of thier workforce, the TUC claimed today.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

“In the last seven days health and safety has been hit by a triple whammy. The Young Review, which last week semed to rule out any commitment from the Government to the occupational health agenda, was followed this week by deep cuts to spending which will make it easier for employers to avoid their obligations under the law to keep their staff safe and well at work.

More than a million workers are currently suffering from an illness or injury caused by their work and last year over 30 million days were lost due to work-related sickness absence.”

It seems pretty clear to us that Lord Young’s favoured yardsticks of productivity and profitability are actually best served by a robust commitment to worker health and safety which will deliver fewer days lost to accident and injury. However, it seems that he is intent on rolling back the scope of existing health and safety regulations as part of his strategy to tackle the perceived problem of the compensation culture.

If you have been hurt or injured in an accident at work you can call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation review of your claim by a personal injury solicitor.

It’s official – there is no compensation culture (unless you edit a tabloid newspaper)

Lord Young of Graffam’s report on the nation’s health and safety legislation for the prime minister, unveiled last Friday, has been greeted with wild enthusiasm by the tabloid press, but are they telling the full story?.

A “massive shake-up,” the Sun declared, was set to “rid Britain of its crippling compensation culture.”

The Mail reckoned Lord Young had come up with “masterly plans for curbing the compensation culture and reforming our idiotic health and safety laws.”

The Express heralded “the beginning of the end for the compensation culture.”

The Star claimed to be in tune with the PM’s thoughts on the issue: “Cam: I’ll crush compo culture.”

But what did Lord Young actually say?

“The problem of the compensation culture prevalent in society today is one of perception rather than reality…There was on overriding opinion that the health and safety agenda had been hijacked by the tabloid press, whose reports often contributed to misinterpretation and misunderstandings by regularly exaggerating and ridiculing instances which in reality have nothing at all to do with health and safety…There was a general agreement that the rise of a compensation culture is largely a myth perpretated by the national press.”

So there it is then. According to Lord Young, the PM’s appointee as special adviser and the report’s author, there is no compensation culture. However, there is a lot of media hysteria around and unfortunately the tabloids, true to form, have already hijacked the report for their own ends. What we need is a strong statement from the PM’s office declaring the compensation culture to be a myth but we fear that even Downing Street is not above tweaking Lord Young’s report to suit its own agenda on the topic. 

Bonnar & Company fights for the rights of hurt and injured people and their families. We do not subscribe to the notion of a compensation culture and we will continue to represent the interests of our clients who have suffered as a result of others’ negligence whether at work, on the road or in a public place. Accident victims are under increasing pressure from insurance companies to settle their claim for less than its true value and that is why people seeking personal injury compensation need experience and expertise on their side.

For a free review of your claim and expert legal advice , please contact us on: FREEphone 0800 163 978

Historic Scotland and Visit Scotland both ‘slip up’ on safety record

Staff and visitors at some of Scotland’s top tourism sights have injured themselves almost 250 times since the beginning of last year. Some 126 members of staff at Historic Scotland and VisitScotland, and 120 visitors to their sites, found themselves hurt in accidents, making the locations equally hazardous for the public and workers alike.

According to figures released today through a Freedom of Information request, more than 100 visitors at Historic Scotland sites received injuries ranging from cracked ribs to dislocated elbows and broken shoulders. Almost 20 members of the public at VisitScotland sites recorded injuries, including a child at the Wallace Monument in April of last year who had to have the tip of their finger removed after trapping it in a toilet door.

A spokesperson for VisitScotland said: “The safety of our staff and customers across our network of offices and visitor information centres is of paramount importance. We are striving to improve our performance in this area.”

Some of the more serious incidents at Historic Scotland sites resulted in staff or members of the public claiming for damages. A staff member who fell off scaffolding and tore an ankle ligament is currently having their claim handled by Historic Scotland solicitors, as is another who slipped on ice and broke a wrist. A third visitor has a claim currently being handled, after a trip on a raised kerb left them with a cut above the left eye and a broken shoulder.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: “The nature of our work and the sites that we manage present unique health and safety challenges. However, we recognise our responsibility to manage health and safety and constantly strive for a better performance record. We will continue to engage with employees, local partners, schools, travel trade industry, and the Health and Safety Executive to continually evolve in this area.”

In total, 22 people at Historic Scotland sites were struck by falling or moving objects, and 18 staff members suffered musculoskeletal injuries while handling furniture and other items. Another 21 people walked into or otherwise struck a fixed object – including three visitors who ran into the same interpretation board – and one staff member was involved in a vehicle accident.

Two staff members at Historic Scotland also suffered burns and blisters as a result of coming into contact with “Giant Hogweed”, an ornamental plant introduced to Britain in the 19th century that can cause scars that last for several years, or even permanent blindness.

There were fewer overall accidental injuries at VisitScotland’s sites, with 17 visitors and 28 staff suffering injuries at their locations. Slips, trips and falls accounted for most of these, with 17 people – 11 staff and six visitors – hurting themselves at VisitScotland sites in this way.

Historic sites and visitor attractions may not be inherently dangerous but clearly old buildings and exposed sites do present unique health and safety risks which can and must be managed.  At a time when Lord Young seems hell-bent on decrying the need for sensible risk management and is bemoaning the existence of ‘petty regulations’, the government would do well to remember that people actually expect to return home safe and sound at the end of a day out spent visiting a tourist attraction…and please, let’s not forget about the workers.

If you have been hurt or injured whilst visiting a tourist attraction in Scotland you can contact us for free legal advice and an expert review of your case on 0800 163 978.

Dangerous dog owners have something else in common

The owner of a dog which ripped a young girl’s face apart already had a criminal conviction for failing to control the animal.

Gaynor McCabe’s Japanese Akita savaged 10-year-old Toni Clannachan last week. The youngster needed 100 stitches and pictures of her horrific injuries shocked Scotland – but McCabe insisted the attack was out of character for her pet.

Newspaper reports have revealed that McCabe was convicted under the Dangerous Dogs Act in June 2009 after the Akita, called Kruger, attacked a springer spaniel in the street.

This follows revelations that Derek Adam, the owner of the two rottweilers that savaged 10-year-old Rhianna Kidd last Sunday was handed a court order in March this year which he ignored.

These dogs are not family pets, they are vicious out of control animals. In our opinion the new Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act cannot come into force quickly enough.

If you or a member of your family has been injured by a dog please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for expert legal advice and a no obligation review of your case.