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Tristan Hallam: Shocking Health and Safety Regulations Exposed

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

I read in the Watford Observer (18th April 2011) an article about work that was being done to a property in Bushey.  A neighbour had sent to the Hertsmere Borough Council and the Health & Safety Executive a photograph of a construction worker working on a roof. A scaffolding tower had been placed on the side of the building. A few feet away from the scaffolding tower a ladder had been erected and on top using the ladder and the scaffolding tower as props, another ladder had been stretched and the construction worker was standing on a second ladder working on the roof.

The photograph is scary.  By this I mean there is every possibility that the construction arrangement referred to was going to collapse, in which case the worker would have fallen to his death or at least suffering a serious injury.

We have all been up ladders, clearing guttering and painting windows.  We are effectively entitled to do what we wish in the confines of our own home, however the duty that a construction employer has is significantly great and without question the arrangement referred to breached not only the common law duty of an employer but a whole host of Regulations which will not impressed the Health & Safety Executive.

Cutting corners in the construction industry is not a good idea.  It tends to lead to serious accidents at the very least.  For this reason when one passes a construction site, there is normally a large sign saying that workers are not allowed on site unless personal protective equipment (PPE) is warned.

The construction industry has changed over the last few years.  It must be said that this has been led not only by legal requirements but also by the insurance industry placing pressure on its insured to comply and to increase the level of safety. The reduction in risk to the insurance companies is no doubt reflected in a slight reduction in insurance premiums paid.

I would like to think that claims and pressure brought upon insurance companies have also assisted.  It tends to be when litigation ensues, that insurers sit up and take notice.

Tristan Hallam is a Principal Lawyer in Personal Injury in the London office of Slater and Gordon. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.