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Is your employer doing enough to protect you from harm?

View profile for Pauline Smith
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Fines of £2 million for firms involved in death of worker

The Health and Safety Executive regularly publish press releases which focus on the outcome of prosecutions of firms whose employees are injured or even killed whilst simply going about their day to day jobs. The headlines of these articles are shocking, involving people suffering horrific injuries and companies being fined thousands and sometimes even millions of pounds for failing to keep their employees safe.

Almost without exception, these accidents have common denominators – the failure on the part of the employer to properly risk assess a task that the employee was carrying out, or failing to ensure that safety equipment was worn, or simply not planning a job with any real forethought.

135 workers were killed in work related accidents in 2022/2023, with the majority of those deaths being in the construction, manufacturing and agriculture industries. Think about that for a moment. That is far too many avoidable deaths.

Your employer has a duty, in law, to protect their employees – and other people – from harm. The basis for this duty is the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Under these regulations your employer must:

  • Identify any hazards in your business or workplace which could lead to injury and/or illness.
  • Work out how likely it is that some could be harmed and also calculate how seriously they could be harmed. This is know as identifying the “risk”.
  • They should then take appropriate steps to eliminate the risk completely, or if this is not possible, to reduce that risk to the lowest possible level.

Of course, some occupations carry more risk than others; you are more likely to be injured in a busy factory with moving machinery than being sat at a desk. However, the basic requirement to ensure safety and care for employees remains the same.

What can your employer do? 

  1. Look around the office/factory/warehouse/yard. Is this tidy and free from tripping hazards and are there designated walkways for pedestrians to avoid moving working vehicles? Are items stacked correctly and safely? Is machinery well maintained, and inspected regularly?
  2. Do your employees have the means to speak with you to identify any concerns that they have or suggestions that they can make to make the workplace safer? Do you have a proper accident reporting procedure? Look back on any previous incidents and see if lessons can be learned.
  3. Do you supply your employees with appropriate personal protective equipment to enable them to carry out their job safely?
  4. Do you have a proper training programme in place so that your employees are aware of any risks and that they know how to reduce those risks by wearing safety equipment, following  safe systems of work, asking for help from other employees/supervisors, correctly lifting heavy items and correctly operating equipment?
  5. Can you identify whether any unsafe working practices are being used and educate your staff on how to work safely?

Once a hazard has been identified, and measures put in place to prevent the risk, those measures must be regularly updated and filtered down to the workforce.  Any new employees must be trained and made aware of the control measures in place, and training should be updated and refreshed regularly for the whole workforce.

Although the very shocking breaches of workplace health and safety make the headlines, many thousands of working days are lost every year due to accidents at work, which affects not only the business due to a reduction in staff, but also the injured person, who may not be paid during their absence and may have a nasty injury to recover from. A pro-active approach to safety in the workplace can prevent this from happening. Remember, a safe workplace is a happy workplace.

If you have been injured as a result of an accident at work and would like some advice on whether you are able to make a claim, then our experienced personal injury team can help you. Call us on 0161 696 6235.