In 2010, the coalition government cut local authority budgets by up to £160 per head of population in some of the most deprived areas of Britain. In some cases, the severe reduction of vital council services has potentially raised health and safety risks and subsequent accident claims for both ordinary members of the public as well as those with special needs.
However, accidents that occur, for which the local council may be liable, can arise because health and safety procedures have not been sufficiently carried out or simply neglected.
Essex County Council was recently fined a total of £30,110 including costs for breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after a 9-year-old Harlow boy with severe learning and physical disabilities needed life saving resuscitation after almost drowning in his school’s swimming pool.
Following an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), it was found that the council had failed to provide adequate information and ensure guidance was followed in local council schools on how to safely manage and operate their swimming pools, including when an emergency incident takes place.
Under the general requirements of the Health & Safety etc Act 1974, every pool operator must ensure the safety of the workplace, i.e. the equipment and plant and systems of work. Information, instruction, training and supervision must be provided to ensure that safety is maintained.
With the drastic cutbacks to council services, including both public and education amenities such as schools, libraries, recreation centres and swimming pools, it looks likely that those who do remain open will be under greater pressure than ever to prevent accidents that lead to injury compensation for harm suffered.
The practicalities of managing health and safety include the implementation of a detailed and thorough risk assessment of all aspects of work that could cause harm and to establish whether enough precautions have been taken to prevent harm, or whether more precautions are required.
As part of the risk assessment, all associated hazards and risks must be considered.
The aim is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. The five steps which need to be taken to ensure a proper risk assessment is carried out, are: