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.

20,000 people in the UK die early because of work

Simply being at work can be dangerous and it’s driving 20,000 Brits to an early grave every year, according to a study out yesterday.

The study, by the TUC, comes at a time when health & safety legislation in the UK is under close scrutiny from government appointee Lord Young, who has been asked by the PM to investigate the ‘compensation culture’.

The report claims that thousands of workers in the UK die early because of occupational cancers and lung disorders such as mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos. It also states that thousands of people are injured at work but their accidents go unnoticed. The Health & Safety Executive echoes the TUC study and estimates that a staggering 246,000 workplace injuries were unrecorded last year.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “If the level of HSE funding is cut the effects will be catastrophic.”

Firms such as Bonnar & Company see the effects of workplace accidents on a daily basis and we can only wonder at the rationale behind attempts to cut so-called red tape in the workplace. One person’s red tape is another person’s last line of defence against serious injury or death at work.

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

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.

Third dog attack in Scotland in a week

Sadly, today’s headlines tell us that two-year-old Jemma Horn bears the scars of Scotland’s third horror attack by a dog on a little girl in a week.

She came within an inch of losing her left eye and had her nose torn when she was attacked by a Staffordshire bull terrier.

Jemma was mauled as she played with her twin brother Robbie and dad Robert at a family get-together on Saturday afternoon when the terrier – called Moses – pounced as she was standing next to her dad in the garden of the home in North Berwick, East Lothian.

The attack comes just days after two 10-year-olds were savaged in separate incidents in Dundee and Kilmarnock.

Dog owner, Ann Kidd, of Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire, claimed the dog was trying to play with Jemma. She said: “Her dad was trying to get her to pet it and it jumped up on her to try to lick her. Its paw caught her face and cut her. I am distraught about it. I hope the wee girl is OK. It was an accident. The dog is not vicious.”

The new Control of Dogs Act, which comes into force in Scotland in February 2011, is aimed at identifying, controlling and ultimately destroying dangerous and out-of-control dogs of any breed.

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.