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.

New safety advice to prevent crushing by electric gates

Installers, designers, maintenance firms and manufacturers of electric gates, are being urged to seriously consider new safety advice issued by the Health and Safety Executive today, following the recent deaths of two children involving these gates.

The safety alert points out that limiting the closing forces of gates alone will not provide sufficient protection to meet the relevant standards, and installers must fit additional safeguards to gates in public areas.

HSE’s Director of Field Operations, David Ashton, said:

“Electric or automatic gates are designed to stop if someone gets in the way, and installers and those maintaining these gates have a real duty to ensure this happens. They must take their responsibilities seriously to make sure that anti-crushing, shearing and trapping safety protection devices are correctly set and maintained.”

Today’s alert follows a similar notice issued in February this year reminding gate manufacturers and installers of their safety responsibilities when designing, building and installing electrically powered gates.

On 28 June this year, Semelia Campbell, 6, died when she was crushed by electric gates in Manchester. A few days later on 3 July, Karolina Golabek, 5, was also crushed to death by electric gates in Bridgend, South Wales.

HSE’s advice today also reminds those in control of the maintenance of electric gates to regularly review their risk assessments, taking account of or any changes to the operating conditions or environment.

If, like us, you are wondering why the HSE has been obliged to issue two similar safety notes within months of each other, you well may conclude that current legislation and penalties for breaches are inadequate to ensure the safety of the public and that manufacturers, installers and maintenance companies need to be continually exhorted and pressurised to do the right thing.

The tragic deaths of these two young children have occurred at a time when the UK’s health & safety legislation is under scrutiny by Lord Young. He is poised to report his findings to the government at the end of the month, following a review of ‘silly health & safety legislation’ and the associated ‘red tape’ which is stifling British industry. From Lord Young’s comments to date on the so-called ‘compensation culture’ and the need to allow people to manage risk in a more pragmatic (i.e. cost-effective) manner, we are not at all hopeful that the UK will be a safer place as a result of his work.

If you or a member of your family have been hurt or injured in a public place, perhaps as the result of faulty machinery or equipment you can contact us for free, expert legal advice. Call FREEPHONE 0800 163 978

Near miss as double-decker bus slams into low bridge in Glasgow

The need for careful route planning by bus operating companies and constant driver vigilence on the road was highlighted yesterday after the roof of a double-decker was ripped off as it tried to pass under a Glasgow rail bridge.

The First bus crashed into the Cook Street bridge on the city’s southside causing the area to be cordoned off by police. Fortunately there were no passengers on board at the time and the driver wasn’t injured.

In March 2005 an empty First bus crashed into the same low bridge and in September 1994, a bus carrying a party of Girl Guides hit a low bridge in nearby West Street, killing three girls and two Guide leaders.

If you or a member of your family has been hurt or injured in an accident on public transport you can call Bonnar & Company Solicitors FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation case review and expert independent legal advice. 

Scottish police warn plan to cut speed cameras will risk lives

Scotland’s top police officers have said they would be concerned if funding for speed cameras became a victim of government budget cuts.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) spoke out toady after its sister organisation claimed lives would be put at risk as a result of UK Government spending cuts to the network south of the border.

Mick Giannasi, who leads on road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which represents officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said he was trying to persuade Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers to protect the cameras “for the future of our road safety”.

Last month it emerged that Oxfordshire County Council was switching off all 72 of its fixed speed cameras as part of moves to save money, with other local authorities south of the border are also considering similar action. The UK Government cut £38million from this year’s road safety budget and ended central funding for speed cameras.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road-safety charity Brake echoed the calls. She said: “We agree with Mick Giannasi that if we do see speed cameras removed on a large scale, which seems likely to happen, it’s going to be a devastating blow to road safety. We know that cameras are very effective in cutting speeding which is vital for protecting all road users.”

Having seen the devasting results of reckless driving, Bonnar & Company echoes the views of road safety expertsspeed kills.

If you or a member of your family have been involved in a road traffic accident caused by a speeding driver please contact our personal injury specialists for FREE expert legal advice and practical assistance. For a no obligation review of your claim please call freephone 0800 163 978. 

Dog attacks in Edinburgh hit record high

Incredibly, more than 100 dog attacks have taken place in Edinburgh during the past six months, including one where a 12-month-old baby was bitten, it was revealed today.

The shocking figure, which includes attacks against children, adults and other animals, is twice the amount recorded in the whole of 2009 and clearly highlights a growing and very serious problem. The figures show that only one of the dogs involved in the 102 attacks recorded since January 1 was on a lead and all but 36 of the incidents happened in public spaces such as on roads and pavements, in parks or in open fields

Last year 52 dog attacks were recorded by Lothian and Borders police. In 2008 around 43 attacks were reported. The attacks this year included 26 bites to children, 30 to adults and 39 to other dogs. Four cats and two swans were killed. A one-year-old was bitten and a toddler was also attacked but only around 12 people were charged for owning dangerous animals and only two of the animals were put down.

Scottish SPCA Chief Inspector Mike Flynn today said the number – which is the highest in at least five years – showed that people needed to drastically change their attitudes to owning and training dogs.

He said the new Control of Dogs Bill, set to come into force next year, was a much-needed change to the law and would ensure owners kept their pets under control. However, his use of the word ‘pet’ to describe for example a pit bull bred for fighting is a complete misnomer as these dogs are primarily status symbols used to intimidate and terrorise.     

At present, making a claim for compensation following a dog attack in Scotland can be difficult as the process is often hampered by the problem of identifying the owner and proving that the animal is dangerous.

Bonnar & Company believes that the passing of the Control of Dogs Bill in Scotland is a welcome step in helping innocent victims of dog attacks in Scotland achieve justice and financial compensation for their injuries because it means that every dog, every owner and every location, including previously ‘exempt’ private homes, will now be included in the provisions of the new Act, which will come into force next February.

If you or  a member of your family would like to discuss your legal options arisng from a dog attack, then please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation case review.