When multiple accidents occur within a company, it is a clear sign that health and safety precautions need to be reassessed. Often, changes that need to be made are simple and inexpensive. This was true for drinks company Diageo Scotland Ltd.
Two accidents in the workplace occurred at separate sites owned by the company in 2012. A 51-year-old man fell nearly four metres, whilst using a portable ladder as he cleared a blockage inside a chute in a grain silo, at a site in Burghead.
Two months later, another employee of Diageo Scotland Ltd, this time working at a site in Thomshill, Elgin, also had an accident at work involving a fall.
The second employee had been standing on the bonnet of a loader shovel in order to clean the roof. He fell two metres to the ground and suffered a head injury. He was admitted to hospital and treated for a brain haemorrhage and multiple fractures to his left leg.
The 51-year old worker at Burghead was also taken to hospital with a dislocated finger, a cut to his head and concussion. He had been found unconscious by a colleague.
Both workers are now back at work and fully recovered, although the Burghead worker did find movement in one of his hands was restricted following the work accident.
It is unclear whether he still suffers from restricted movement. If so, he could be eligible to make a compensation claim.
Two accidents occurring at separate sites would suggest to many that the company's health and safety precautions are lacking. In this case, simply making workers aware of proper procedural practice - as well as the dangers and risks involved in not following procedure, could have prevented these accidents.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) assessed the case this month and found the company had not taken the sufficient steps to ensure that ladders were used in a safe manner. When clearing blockages, workers had to manoeuvre around various structural obstacles, which increased the chances of an accident occurring.
Managers at the he Diageo site at Thomshill, Elgin, had also failed to ensure workers were properly instructed in how to safely clean the loader shovel as they had believed all cleaning would be carried out at ground level.
Knowledge was passed down from one worker to another, which, given the nature of their work, did not suitably provide employees with the knowledge needed to follow health and safety regulations.
If employees begin to adopt unsafe practice within the workplace, the employer is responsible for identifying it and taking steps to improve the situation. Diageo Scotland Ltd failed to do this.
Communication is key. A simple conversation with workers regarding procedure would have revealed that proper practice was not being observed.
Let's hope Diageo Scotland and other employers learn from these incidents - regular checks and clear communication with employees is vital in maintaining a safe workplace, - so as to prevent further work accidents in Scotland.