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Failure Of Risk Assessment Can Lead To A Workplace Accident Injury

Worker on the ground after accident
17th December 2013
It may be stating the obvious but there can be very few accident compensation solicitors who would doubt that that many workplace accidents occur simply because no risk assessment had taken place before a work task was undertaken.

Less than two weeks ago, Liverpool Crown Court heard that a St Helen’s recycling plant had failed to put into place an adequate risk assessment, or the required standards of staff training, supervision and work monitoring. As a result, failure to take steps to prevent access to a recycling machine while it was operating, and to ensure power to the machine was cut before maintenance work was carried out led to the death of an employee who fell into the machine during a maintenance check. As a result of the fatal breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 a total fine of £240,000 including costs was handed out.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) state, “If you have five or more employees, you must have a written policy”. It might be imagined in today’s so-called ‘health and safety’ conscious culture, management of potential risks in any workplace would be absolutely fundamental to all occupational activity.

Unfortunately, in so many instances, accident claims have been filed where it seems most apparent there was a failure to carry out the most basic of remedial actions in anticipation of the possibility of an accident occurring.

Common examples in office spaces include securing exposed computer or power extension cables, keeping floors and traffic routes free from obstruction, ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly to prevent slips and falls, and the repair of loose, faulty or worn doors, drawers, shelves, walkways, stairs, work surfaces and other office equipment.

Meanwhile on the factory floor, there are still frequent reports of employees losing fingers, becoming caught by their hair or fatally losing their balance on or near machinery. Invariably, injury claims are accompanied by statements, which claim there was insufficient advance safety training, warning reminders, signage and necessary physical protection.

In other words, a prior risk assessment would have identified potential safety hazards, the correct precautions needed and subsequently implemented, the results of which would be alerted to all workplace employees with constant visible reminders.

According to the HSE, the law does not expect all risk to be eliminated, but a level of protection provided as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’, which in many instances are straightforward measures to readily control risks.