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Are businesses and employees ignoring health and safety?

Have you been putting yourself at risk and can you spot ‘accidents waiting to happen?’ Health and Safety is often ridiculed as being the overzealous approach to keeping people safe from injury and harm – something which has become a hazard itself for those wanting to get on and do their jobs hassle free at work.

‘Watch out…the health and safety police will be after you’ is perhaps a phrase you will have heard at your own workplace when a member of staff has been doing something which they strictly shouldn’t have – perhaps cutting corners to get the job done.

It will happen thousands of times each and every day at workplaces across the UK, where somebody takes a risk – perhaps because it ‘will only take a minute’ – completely disregarding health and safety policies within their organisation.

Equally, employers will take short cuts – continuing to expect staff to use equipment which doesn’t meet the required standards, or perhaps expecting them to work longer hours than they legally should in their roles.

Of course, on most occasions, no injury will occur, giving extra ammunition to those who claim we now live in something of a ‘nanny state’.

But equally, in our work at Hudgell Solicitors, we see many occasions in which workers taking ‘everyday’ risks suffer serious, often life-changing injuries.

We recently represented a man, who was 56 at the time of the accident, who suffered injury when lifting a box of products off a conveyor belt, having been instructed to do so because the box had become broken as it made its way along the production line.

Due to its weight, and the fact he had to lift it over a guard rail which was between waist and shoulder height to remove it from the running line, he wrenched his shoulder and perforated his pectoral muscle, an injury which has had a huge impact on his life since and doctors say cannot be fully repaired.

In allowing him to do so, his employers were breaking health and safety laws given weight of objects being lifted without support or machinery, and putting him at risk.

It may have seemed unnecessary and a burden at the time, but the injuries will now effect his life and this shows why risks like these should not be taken, and why it is down to both employers and employees to identify risks and remove them from the workplace.

It is with that in mind that we are urging people to look out for ‘accidents waiting to happen’ in working environments.

From employees standing on tables or desks instead of ladders, not wearing a hard hat because that job ‘will only take a moment,’ or failing to properly cordon off an area of work which could pose a risk to others – we are sure there will be plenty on view.

We know many people see health and safety as a barrier to getting on with their jobs. Some judge risk assessments as a waste of time, hard hats to be uncomfortable, protective gloves or glasses something which get in the way. That attitude has to change.

The reality is that serious danger comes in everyday situations, and risk is often heightened when people become complacent in their roles. They don’t take their time as they are either doing something they have done many times before, or they haven’t really thought about the dangers involved.

Another worker we represented sliced through four fingers when using a circular saw which had been modified – not properly repaired and maintained – by his employers, and a man who suffered a broken foot when trapping it in machinery he’d not been trained to use.

Both men were simply getting on with their jobs, but due to faulty machinery and a lack of training, both were serious accidents waiting to happen.

Can you see any impending workplace accidents? If so highlight them, and prevent them from happening.

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