We repeatedly see cases of prosecutions on the HSE website that relate to machinery and work at height incidents; these stick out as obvious high risk areas and yet employers continue to fail to protect their workers.
The HSE has recently publicised that workplace falls and dangerous machines are the two most common reasons for companies being prosecuted over health and safety breaches in the North West.
The HSE successfully brought 65 cases to court in the region during the 12 months from April 2013, with 14 cases involving work at height and 12 involving unsafe machinery.
HSE prosecutions in the North West included a construction company and sub-contractor from Bolton, who appeared before magistrates after a worker suffered a fractured skull and broken back when he fell from a house roof. A recycling plant in Kelbrook was also fined £46,000 after a worker almost lost his arm when it became trapped in machinery.
Of the estimated 181 lives lost across Great Britain; falls from height continues to be the most common cause of workplace deaths, accounting for almost a third of fatal injuries to workers. A startling fact and yet one that many businesses seem unable to find the right solutions. We work with many businesses that have staff that work at height and if the right means of access and training is provided then we know that safe working can be achieved.
Unfortunately some businesses fail to recognise the risks in the first place and therefore don’t provide the right equipment or training; we would urge you to make sure this is not a mistake your business makes.
As the HSE have said it’s often only after the death or major injury of an employee that firms take action to improve safety; and by bringing these cases to court, the HSE hope to raise awareness of the issues and help prevent future incidents.
As manufacturing accounts for 1 in 5 serious injuries it’s important that in factories more is done to make sure machines are safe to use. That means installing suitable guards to prevent workers being trapped by dangerous moving parts and ensuring that maintenance work is carried out safely. The key has to be to take the time to assess the risks and implement suitable controls; it generally isn’t rocket science yet taking the time could end up saving someone’s life.