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February 17th 2016

Personal Injury

Serious injury in accident at work case highlights risks of ignoring simple health and safety rules

Jane Woodcock

Jane Woodcock

Senior Legal Executive and Head of Personal Injury

Serious injury in accident at work case highlights risks of ignoring simple health and safety rules

The failure of businesses to maintain safe working premises, and ensure safe working practices are followed by staff at all times, can be costly not only to a company’s bottom line, but also to the wellbeing of their employees.

The failure of businesses to maintain safe working premises, and ensure safe working practices are followed by staff at all times, can be costly not only to a company’s bottom line, but also to the wellbeing of their employees.

We are all aware of the dangers posed in environments such as factories, warehouses and on constructions sites, where heavy machinery and equipment, which poses a high risk if not maintained and operator correctly, is used day after day.

Accidents and injury at work specialists

But a case before the courts recently has highlighted the need for smaller businesses, and those perhaps not considered to be a high-risk environment, to keep tight control of health and safety procedures, and ensure they are always followed by their employees.

Shoe shop failed to provide safe equipment

The owners of Pettits shoe shop, in Beverley, East Yorkshire, were fined £16,000 by magistrates after their shop manager was seriously injured at work, as stepladders she was using in the store snapped in half.

Magistrates heard that WS Pettit & Co Limited, which owns the branch, had failed in its duty to equip staff with suitable stepladders to carry out necessary tasks – a simple but costly error for all involved.

Staff had not received adequate training on using the ladders, and safety checks on the equipment had not been carried out, the court was also told.

No excuses for failing to provide correct, safe equipment

An interesting element of the owners’ defence was that two sets of commercial ladders had been provided for staff at some point, but employees had apparently complained that they were ‘too bulky’.As a result, the court heard that the store’s “handy man” had brought in a pair of old domestic stepladders out of storage for staff to use.

It was a decision no doubt taken out of convenience at the time, and to appease staff, but has ultimately paid costly for all.Both the business – and employees – would have been in a much safer position had the commercial ladders been retained, and staff given appropriate training to use them.

The ultimate cost – serious injury and an employee out of work

The business owners claimed procedures and policies were in place, but in pleading guilty to four counts of health and safety at work breaches, they accepted that elements were not monitored, implemented and policed properly.

Shop manager Tracy Oldridge sustained a serious injury to her left knee in the fall, resulting in her being unable to work since. In my work at Hudgell Solicitors, I see the consequences of injuries suffered at work on individuals and their families.

It often results in a period of time off work, as is the case here, and lost earnings. This is something we can help recover for people who suffer accidents at work. If people have to stop working all together, claims can be made for future losses also, making finances one less thing to worry about at a difficult time.

A successful compensation claim, which can date back three years to an accident can also help cover the cost of any treatment fees, physiotherapy and rehabilitation support needed to get back to good health, something vital when people suffer serious, long-term injuries.

Whilst shortcuts are being made in the workplace to save time, costs and ‘hassle’, accidents and injuries will continue to happen, as this case has proved.

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