Where does the responsibility for safety at work lie? Most, of course, will say it ultimately lies with the employer. They have an overriding duty to protect their workforce from injury and harm, and in that respect, they do take the greatest responsibility.
Procedures and systems must be in place to meet Health and Safety standards, therefore ensuring employees are not exposed to avoidable danger and risk of injury, appropriate training should be provided for staff to carry out their specific roles, and equipment used must be maintained to ensure it is working effectively, with detailed records retained.
But what about the employees themselves? What is there legal duty with regard to their safety, and that of their work colleagues?
This is perhaps an area employers could focus on as we head towards World Day For Health and Safety At Work on April 28. How many actually engage with their staff about the important role they play in keeping one another safe?
Have you seen ‘accidents waiting to happen’ and ignored them?
How many times have you been at work and noticed a potential hazard or danger and not flagged it up to a responsible individual, or how many times have you cut corners as part of your daily duties, knowing there was a safety risk, just to get the job done?
When you look around your workplace, how many accidents waiting to happen do you see?
The responsibility to reduce accidents and injuries at work has to be a collective effort. Workforces need to come together, management and staff, to reduce accidents and injuries in the workplace.
Simple steps from workers, such as behaving in a sensible manner, not being prepared to take risks, reporting defective equipment and making sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times, can make a big positive impact and significantly reduce the likelihood of injury.
Looking for compensation? Can you say you followed procedures when suffering injury?
At Hudgell Solicitors, we handle many accident at work compensation claims, and questions around the injured person’s behaviour at the time of injury are always the first to be asked.
An employer may be guilty of exposing someone to risk, but if the individual injured has willingly and knowingly risked their health – and even worse acted in a way to increase the risk to them – it could have serious consequences.
Firstly, they could not only suffer a very serious injury, but also face having to accept lower damages settlements if their actions are viewed to have contributed to the accident – or face having no opportunity to claim at all.
On serious, life-changing injuries at work, compensation settlements can be significant, often in six or seven figures to reflect the long term loss and life impact, so a percentage reduction based on the contributing fault of an employee can have a devastating impact.
There are many occupations which carry obvious and inherent risk of injury – others less so – but all businesses and workers must work together to protect one another – and identifying obvious risks and eliminating them from the day to day work processes is a simple first step which each and every company and its staff can take.