As a Solicitor who specialises in personal injury claims, I am regularly instructed in relation to accidents at work and one of the first things I look for is whether there has been a proper risk assessment.
Accidents at work, often through the fault of an employer or another member of staff, not only cause suffering and economic hardship for the individuals concerned, but also potentially huge costs to the employer in terms of productivity, profit, staff moral and insurance premiums.
The laws relating to health and safety at work are contained in numerous Acts of Parliament and regulations. These cover almost all aspects of working life, from organising workspaces to working with hazardous substances. A common theme is the duty to risk assess.
In essence, a risk assessment requires an employer to consider the activities it is asking its employees to undertake and to stop and think about the risks each activity poses. An employer should then consider what steps can be taken to eliminate those risks. If a risk cannot be eliminated, it should be reduced to a minimum. The risk assessment should be recorded and the outcomes implemented.
Health and Safety Executive figures show that an astounding 31.2 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2016/17. In my experience, if a business has a good system of risk assessment, accidents are much less likely. In most successful claims, the reason for the accident occurring can be traced back to a poor or ‘tick-box’ approach to risk assessment.
In short, taking the time to actively risk assess is good for employees and good for business.
About the Author
Richard Green is a Solicitor in Wards Solicitors’ Personal Injury team specialising in injuries suffered at work and occupational diseases such as asbestos-related illness, stress at work and hearing loss. His work also covers fatal accidents and cases involving brain and spinal cord injuries. Richard also acts for victims of road traffic collisions (including cyclists and pedestrians) and sexual and violent assaults, as well as claims resulting from faulty products, food poisoning, exposure to hazardous chemicals, legionnaires disease and trips and falls.