The Workers Union has called on British firms to put the health and safety of employees ‘front and centre’ of the way they do business.
In a statement released this morning, a spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘It’s a new year, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be a happy one for workers toiling in dangerous conditions. There really is no excuse for this in 2022. Employees should be able to carry out their duties safely, without being exposed to unnecessary risk. That is the basis of the covenant between staff and employer, and yet it continues to be undermined by shoddy practice and cost-cutting. It’s simply unacceptable and has to end.’
The statement came after the Health and Safety executive revealed that a manufacturer of cardboard has been hit with a £117,585 fine after a worker suffered crush injuries from a forklift truck.
The injuries were sustained on August the 27th 2019, when a visiting lorry driver was helping to load pallets of cardboard tubes on to his vehicle at a delivery yard. As the second pallet was loaded, the forklift truck reversed and hit the driver, crushing his right leg.
A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Exectutive revealed that the company had failed to provide the necessary segregation between pedestrians and vehicles. The company pleaded guilty to a breach of regulation 17 (1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, and was fined £117,585 by Peterlee Magistrates’ Court. The court also ordered them to pay £5,404 in costs.
HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali said: ‘This injury was easily preventable. Planning for transport safety and implementing safe working practices should avoid such incidents. Workplace transport is a significant hazard, and the risks must be recognised and managed. There are simple and effective measures employers can take to help keep everyone safe.
‘Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required safety standards.’
The Workers Union Says…
This organisation has long campaigned for greater investment in health and safety at work. And yet we still deal with many cases of people contacting us after they have found themselves the victims of negligent employers.
Like death and taxes, it seems that corner-cutting companies will always be with us. But it doesn’t have to be like this. There are many incentives available for employers who want to do the right thing by their employees – it just takes business chiefs to look beyond the bottom line. We are not naive enough to claim that profit is not important, but there’s enormous value in a ‘good-will’ dividend from staff who believe their interests are looked after. They work harder and are more productive. They feel empowered to perform at their best.
Part of generating this goodwill must see employers front up to their health and safety responsibilities. If workers believe that the company cares about their welfare, everyone benefits. If workers are under pressure to complete tasks without adequate protections, then costly accidents can and will happen.