Lawford Kidd's Blog

Lawford Kidd's injury solicitors' blog designed to cover all areas of the law relating to accident compensation claims, injury claims and no win no fee in Scotland.

Changes to health and safety reporting

With effect from 6th April, employers no longer have to report to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) injuries which keep workers off normal duties for seven or fewer days. Previously, injuries had to be reported if they kept workers off normal duties for more than three days.

The change to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 will see a fall of around 30% in the number of incidents that must be reported by law – an average of around 30,000 fewer reports a year. The move is estimated to save businesses 10,000 hours a year.

Employers will also be given a longer period in which to report, increasing from 10 to 15 days from the time of the incident.

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Window and door manufacturer fined after worker killed

A firm specialising in the manufacture of wooden doors and windows has been fined for safety failings after a worker died at its Leyton premises.

Andrzej Rokita had been with M M Contracting Ltd for only ten days when he attempted to help his son, also an employee, to remove a large board from the middle of a pile stacked upright against a wall in the workshop.

The company's usual system for doing this was for one employee to stand in front of the stack, taking the weight of the unwanted boards on his hands, while a fellow worker pulled out the chosen one from the side. Unfortunately as Mr Rokita tried to support the weight of the leaning wooden panels they toppled over, crushing him and causing fatal head injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that the company did not have a safe system of work for the storage or retrieval of boards. Storing the boards flat on the floor or using a simple purpose-built racking system would have greatly reduced the risk of injury.

After today's sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court, HSE inspector Kevin Smith said:

"This was a death waiting to happen. Incidents such as this are still a common occurrence in the industry despite the existence of guidance from the HSE offering simple, inexpensive solutions for stacking wood safely.

"As a direct result of the company's failure to provide safe storage for their everyday materials, a father and husband has lost his life. There is no excuse for employers not ensuring that wood on their premises is properly stored, posing the most minimal risk to their staff."

The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.

 

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Irish Injuries Board annual review 2011

InjuriesBoard.ie has published its review of 2011, which shows that compensation totalling €210 million was awarded in 2011 in respect of 9,833 personal injury claims. The average award in the period was €21,339. During the year the Board made an award of €829,444, its highest to date.

Award values via the Injuries Board remained consistent with awards through the Courts. The average award in 2011 was €21,339, down 3.8% on 2010. This reduction is largely due to a reduction in the proportion of work related claims – typically of higher value – and reduced loss of earnings, given lower salaries across the economy.

The total value of awards in the period increased by 23% but this was largely driven by an increase in the number of awards assessed in the period. Underlying claims volumes remained stable, increasing by 3% in the period and suggesting that the often mooted increase in claims during recessionary times has not occurred.

Over three quarters of awards (76.5%) were for injuries from road traffic accidents, while the remainder were split between workplace (8.4%) and public place (15.1%) accidents.

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Company fined after fatal accident at work

Railcare Ltd has been fined £133,000 (reduced from £200,000 on account of their guilty plea) at Glasgow Sheriff Court for a breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, following the death of one of their employees in December 2008. John Smith, a 53-year old employee of the company, died as a result of head injuries sustained whilst working at an axle lathe that had an unguarded chuck.

The company pled guilty to:

  • failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the risks to employees when cleaning axles on a lathe;
  • failing to implement a safe system of work in that the chuck of the lathe was unguarded when employees were working close to it; and
  • failing to provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision on the use of the lathe.


Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said:

“This case yet again demonstrates the crucial importance of employers carrying out suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to their employees in the course of their daily work, taking the steps necessary to identify such risks, and thereafter ensuring that safe systems of work are in place and dangerous machinery parts are properly guarded. Railcare failed in each of these respects in relation to the axle lathe.”

"As a result, Mr Smith lost his life in an entirely avoidable incident.”

 

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Firm fined after technician's death at factory

An experienced technician at a plastic products factory in Cornwall was killed after he was crushed between the plates on a machine used to make plastic lids.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Curver UK Ltd (formerly Contico Europe Ltd) for failing to provide adequate safety measures.

Truro Crown Court heard that in preparing the machinery Mr O'Dwyer needed to access the plastic mouldings machine's plates. This was normally done via a guard which, when opened, prevented the machine from operating. However in this case one of the conveyors on the machine had been removed and Mr O'Dwyer was able to access the machine through an unguarded gap. Whilst he was inside the press started to operate and the plates closed crushing him at a pressure of over 1,000 tonnes.

Curver UK Ltd pleaded guilty to committing a breach of Regulation 11 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations under Section 33(1) (c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £32,000 costs.

 

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