Health and safety lapses lead to serious injury
Accident at Essex-based agricultural machinery company highlights the importance of health and safety awareness in the workplace.
Many people have a somewhat sceptical attitude towards health and safety. However, when it comes to the work place it’s a hugely important issue and, as a business owner, is one that you can’t afford to ignore.
Nothing illustrates this better than the recent case of Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd – an Essex-based agricultural machinery company who were fined £750,000 after an accident left an employee blind in one eye.
The accident occurred on 10 December last year when a tyre technician employed by the company was re-fitting and re-inflating the tyres of a 4-wheel-drive agricultural vehicle. One of the tyres exploded during inflation, blowing the technician across the room and causing serious injuries to his head and face, and permanent damage to one eye.
The subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive discovered a lack of adequate training and supervision given to tyre technicians working for the company. Furthermore, HSE also found that unsafe working practices had become the norm at the tyre depot where the accident took place – and this is something that the company had failed to address.
Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and attended Chelmsford Crown Court in November where they were fined £750,000 and ordered to pay HSE’s court costs.
Following the hearing, HSE’s Principal Inspector stated that the incident was ‘entirely foreseeable’ given the unsafe working practices at the firm.
Protect your employees
Unfortunately, the story above is not an isolated incident – each year in the UK, more than 3 million people are injured at work, or suffer from illnesses that are caused by or exacerbated by their work. As well as the human impact, these incidences can also be costly for the businesses involved. HSE successfully prosecuted over 600 firms in the last year, with total fines reaching £16.5 million. So, how can you make sure you protect your employees and don’t fall foul of HSE?
First and foremost, a commitment to health and safety within your organisation is key. Health and safety regulations apply to all organisations and, as an employer, you have a duty to ensure that your employees can carry out their work in a safe manner.
Many people think that health and safety is complicated and time consuming – but it doesn’t have to be. It is just a case of putting in a place a series of practical steps that help prevent your employees from becoming ill or injured at work. These include drawing up a health and safety policy, carrying out risk assessments and checking that your processes and procedures have adequate health and safety measures built in to them. HSE have created a ‘Health and Safety Made Simple’ guide specifically to help small and medium businesses embed health and safety within their organisation.
It’s also really important to ensure that all of your staff, particularly contractors, are given adequate health and safety training. By attending a health and safety awareness course, your employees will learn how to protect themselves and each other in the workplace, helping to foster a positive health and safety culture within your organisation.
Cases such as the one involving Ernest Doe & Sons Ltd highlight how important health and safety is – and it is a key issue no matter what sector you work in. By putting specific measures in place and embedding health and safety awareness throughout the organisation, you can help ensure that your company is responsible, profitable and a great place to work.