How to avoid accidents and injury at work
I started my career as a personal injury solicitor working for those who suffered personal injury at work. What is striking is that although the law has been changed to make the workplace safer, attitudes have not altered.
A company is a financial vehicle designed to produce profit. That aim which we all understand clashes with the need to have a completely safe workplace and avoid workplace accidents. That balance is dealt with by the use of reasonable or reasonably practicable in the various laws which apply. Let us explain how the law deals with this difficult balance for those who suffer personal injury at work.
Companies and their managers do not want workplace accidents, but production time and cost make compromise necessary. Those compromises can lead to:
- Inadequate assessment of the risks in the workplace.
- Not involving the production workers in health and safety assessments.
- Machinery designed or used without proper safety mechanisms.
- Incentives to work faster.
These incentives to work faster have been a constant factor in workplace accident claims I have put forward over my career as a personal injury solicitor. Incentives cover everything from a production bonus to the fear of losing your job. You would not have obvious distractions in the workplace, but isn’t a bonus to work faster a distraction? These distractions can encourage the cutting of corners, carelessness for the safety of colleagues, and workplace accidents. We all want to work, or at least have to work, and we know the company must be profitable, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.
If these compromises are made an employer cannot complain if members of staff suffer personal injury at work Those employees have to seek compensation because they are not able to earn their usual wage when off work. A poor health and safety record will mean an increase in the insurance cost for a company. An employer must be insured for its liability as an employer.
What is required is a longer term view which looks at the cost of these compromises. There might be a production gain if all goes well, but the compromises identified will ultimately cost more money, reduce profitability, and make the workplace unsafe for your staff. Managers, and those looking at costs, must put themselves on the shop floor, and ask is this an environment I want to work in? If the answer is no then change the workplace and avoid personal injury at work.