There has been a review published this week into health and safety procedures carried out by the former conservative minister Lord Young to curb the “compensation culture” in Britain.
Lord Young proposes to reduce the number of personal injury claims. He says “For too long, health and safety has been allowed to become a joke in the media and among the public. It’s about time it was taken seriously.”
I share some of Lord Young’s views. However, we are led to believe that there are an increasing number of claims being made against schools for accidents on school trips and claims against local authorities for falling acorns and conkers. This simply is not the case. Often, these stories in the media relate to proposals that the schools and local authorities themselves make in fear of a claim being made against them. If someone was injured by a falling acorn or conker, I very much doubt that it would be taken on by Personal Injury solicitors or even taken to Court for that matter.
I have to say, in the five years that I have been practising as a personal injury solicitor, I have not seen one accident involving a falling acorn or conker or an accident which has occurred on a school trip.
On the other hand, I see, day in and day out, cases where serious injuries have occurred in workplaces because greedy employers have cut corners and breached the most fundamental principles of health and safety legislation in an attempt to increase production and profitability and cases where schools and children’s nurseries have failed to provide any sort of adequate supervision of very young children.
We still see fire doors in offices being held open by boxes of stationery causing obstructions and hazards. We still see employers removing guards from moving parts of machinery and what is even more concerning is that there are still employers out there who do not take out adequate employer’s liability insurance.
With spending cuts being made in every industry right now and basic health and safety training being curtailed in the workplace, the incidences of workplace accidents are only likely to increase.
Lord Young also proposes to remove the ‘no win, no fee’ culture. Rather than removing access to justice and reducing the number of personal injury firms which Lord Young’s proposals would bring about, the Government should focus on ensuring that accidents are prevented.
Lord Young fails to address how businesses are going to be regulated adequately to ensure that employers, local authorities and schools address the most fundamental principles of health and safety to avoid the risk of injury or death to us all.