Is this an example of a growing compensation culture or an example of why we must ensure that health and safety regulations protecting employees must stay?
I read an article in the Daily Mail online which in my opinion shows an example of why health and safety regulations protecting employees must stay.
Apparently, Greater Manchester Police have paid out £38,000 in compensation to officers and legal costs for a blunder which could have saved the force a huge expense at a time when civilian staff jobs are being lost and police budgets are tight.
According to the Daily Mail, police recruits suffered burns and blisters during a training exercise using CS spray. The recruits were made to walk through noxious gases under cover exposing them to larger quantities of gas fumes. Apparently the gas used for the training event was also 10 times stronger than used on the streets.
A force spokesman was reported in the Manchester Evening News to have said: "Since the incident occurred, GMP has revised its training procedure and no further incidents have since taken place. We always deal with claims in the most cost-effective and proportionate manner to avoid unnecessary costs and delays.”
Comments posted at the end of the article refer to the compensation culture we keep hearing about in the Press and make criticism of the officers who were injured. Thankfully none of the officers were fatally injured by inhaling the fumes but what if they had been? Who knows the full extent of the risk of inhaling gas 10 times stronger than used on the street? By the fact that these officers have recovered compensation suggests to me that Greater Manchester Police hadn’t adequately assessed that risk.
Cutting police budgets and reducing the number of police officers is one measure that poses a risk to us all as a society but putting police officer’s lives at risk or out of work temporarily because of injuries isn’t going to help matters either.
Neither will the Government’s proposals to do away with the health and safety regulations which protect other vulnerable employees from sustaining similar injuries which could be life threatening. This case illustrates that injuries can be prevented by taking simple measures, such as assessing risk of injury, which the current regulations adequately provide for and which must stay.
By personal injury solicitor, Jennifer Holt