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MenTuesday 14 May 2019

Men and the self-employed may get the short end of the stick.

Men and the self-employed may get the short end of the stick, but anybody can suffer a workplace accident and in the most diverse circumstances.

There is still plenty of work to be done, but equality in the workplace is increasingly commonplace, both in legal terms and in practice. However, men still dominate in one area that no one aspires to – the likelihood of suffering accidents at work.

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that men are far more likely to suffer accidents at work, mainly because men still make up the majority of the workforce in sectors like heavy industry and construction where a high degree of accidents take place.

In fact, 96% of all worker fatalities in 2017/18 were to male workers, a similar proportion to previous years.

The other striking statistic from the latest HSE report on workplace injuries is the fact that a third of fatal injuries over the last five years were to self-employed workers, this despite the fact they only make up 15% of the total workforce. The majority of these fatalities were in the agriculture and construction sectors, perhaps suggesting that lax practices in these sectors are still too prevalent.

Of course, behind every statistic is a human story, and every man or woman who suffers an accident at work through no fault of their own is one victim too many.

In one recent case, a female kitchen worker fractured her skull after slipping on wet tiles. When a Local Authority Health & Safety Inspector visited the restaurant to investigate the circumstances surrounding the serious injury, he quickly became concerned that the floor surface in the kitchen was very slippery with even the smallest amounts of water or grease on it.

“This was a very serious accident, one which was wholly preventable. Every employer has a duty under law to protect its employees from physical harm – something that [the company] blatantly failed to do. There had been four similar accidents in their kitchen during the previous 12 months, yet they still failed to act.” As a result, the prosecuted employer was ordered to pay over £36,000 including prosecution costs.

In another case, a supermarket was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £25,500 after a worker was burned by hot oil. The catering assistant, who worked in the customer restaurant, received burns to her back when she slipped and fell on hot oil. The assistant had been emptying oil, thought to be in excess of 100c, from a deep fat fryer into a handle less plastic bucket when the bucket melted allowing the oil to spill onto her feet and the floor.

You would expect nurseries to be a safe environment, but the High Court found a nursery group to be liable for an employee’s severe disability, caused by placing a baby in a defective cot. The judge ruled that Bright Horizons failed to follow its own health and safety risk assessments even though it knew the female member of staff already had a bad back. The nursery group required her to use faulty cots, which also breached its own manual handling procedures.

If you have been the victim of an accident at work and would like to discuss the claims process and possible compensation, please contact Swindon Accident Solicitors on 01793 425595.

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