Some jobs are inherently dangerous. Soldiers, Police Officers, and Fire Fighters all accept some element of danger as an inherent part of their job. Whilst the risks associated with these roles can be minimised with proper Health and Safety they cannot be fully eradicated. This is not the case in the manufacturing industry where so many of the life changing accidents that happen are because of wilful neglect on the part of employers. The manufacturing industry has for decades been renowned for poor Health and Safety. Governments have tried to address this since 1833. Reluctance to put guards on machines or provide proper protective equipment is usually because of the costs involved.
This week Sovex Limited, a Whirral based company, was fined £170,000 plus costs by Warwick Crown Court for a “lack of effective guarding and isolation procedures on the machinery” which lead to an engineer suffering a broken arm when it was pulled into the machinery.
This is a considerable fine as far as Health and Safety fines go and we hope it will make employers think twice about weighing up the cost of safety measures against the risk of injury.
There should be no factory employee anywhere in the UK that should be going home injured. It is simply unacceptable. If proper risk assessments are made and the proper safety measures implemented then all employees should be safe. Safety is the absolute minimum that employers should be assuring their employees and it is time the manufacturing industry honoured their obligations.
Accidents can happen in any workplace but where they can be avoided by simple measures they are wholly unacceptable. We represent people injured in such accidents on a daily basis and see the anger and hurt which they are forced to deal with. Many have dedicated decades of their lives to employers who take their safety for granted resulting in life changing injuries. The factory will go on but for the worker who loses a limb his life is changed forever. Even a more moderate injury can have a significant impact psychologically and financially for an employee and it could be prevented usually by spending a small amount on guards and other protective equipment.
For some employees they will be able to access the specialised legal advice required to obtain compensation. However, this is being made more difficult with recent reforms such as s.69 Health and Safety Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. Prior to this legislation the worker would have an automatic civil remedy in compensation because of the breach of Health and Safety regulations. This automatic right was extinguished and workers now require specialised advice and representation to ensure they obtain proper compensation.
Perhaps one day manufacturers will wake up and realise the cost of a safe workplace and healthy workforce is a cost worth paying…and much cheaper in the long run.
For further information on machinery accidents click here.
Blog by Alan Calderwood, Accident Lawyer