25 August 2015
Cutting Health and Safety Corners at Work Can Cost Lives
I’m inspired to write this on the day I return from a week’s leave to my work representing those injured in workplace accidents.
I’ve been at home while my wife and daughter have been away visiting family. The event that provided my inspiration is entirely trivial compared to such world events as for example, the recent warehouse explosion in China, but I hope that this light-hearted tale will generate some thought about why accidents happen and how they can be prevented.
While I’ve been alone I’ve had plenty of time to loaf about and play a round or two of golf, but I’ve also been catching up on the chores I’ve been meaning to do for ages.
Washing up and cleaning the kitchen - all done. A visit to the supermarket - easy, especially as I was helped along the way by the free coffee they were giving out.
Ah yes, the smell of freshly cut grass. Cutting the lawn is actually quite fun. Our recycling is out in the green bin. Nice.
I even managed to tidy the garage, the most dreadful job there is. It was impossible to rid the place of all of the cobwebs and dust, but still, I was rather proud of myself.
Until this morning…I opened the curtains to remind myself of how lovely the lawn looks, but to my horror, I saw three pairs of shoes, one belonging to each member of the family. My immediate thought was we had been burgled. Then I remembered the war we’ve been having with a local fox who seems to love destroying our lawn with his digging.
This time Mr Fox has gone too far. Each of the shoes has been chewed to pieces. Completely ruined - how did this happen?
I recall that while I was napping on the sofa last night I toyed with the prospect of closing the patio doors. But, I didn’t. I was too comfy and although my wife always warns me that our urban fox friends might enter the house (something I never believed would happen), it was not until past midnight that I actually closed the doors. It appears that while my eyes were gently closed, a fox had been in and nabbed the shoes from the hallway. How did it take all six – unless it made multiple visits…right under my (snoring) nose? Oh dear.
My wife is going to be really angry. She’s overly sensitive about the odd mouse, but a fox in the house? The tidy garage and pristine lawn will be forgotten in a flash and I’ll be in the, er, doghouse.
Why am I telling you all this?
It seems that when it comes to jobs at home I’m good at cutting corners. It’s not only that I was lazy and didn’t shut the patio doors. I’m also more than happy splashing all kinds of dangerous chemicals around the house while cleaning (hence the big white bleach mark on my jeans which are now ruined).
I don’t use the auto cut off appliance thing when I use the lawnmower because it means having to untangle the cord (another job to do) and I never cut the power before fiddling around with the blade. I’ve even used the lawnmower in the rain before. I’ve done many a painting job without first putting down a protective sheet, hence the plant pot hiding the paint on the carpet. Luckily no real harm has come to me, but I should really be more careful.
Why do we cut corners? Is it because we live in a busy world where everything has to happen quickly so we can get onto more fun things? Why do businesses cut corners? Increased profits must be a motivating factor, particularly in those economies, such as China, where we see increased economic growth but perhaps insufficient regulation.
Here in the UK, the government has legislated in a manner which potentially reduces the impact of Health and Safety law breaches on businesses. Not a day goes by without the press reporting on some accident at work which might easily have been avoided had someone or an organisation as a whole been more careful. This means having proper systems of cleaning, inspection and training in place at all times.
These are precisely the kind of work safety issues which often arise when I’m investigating work accident personal injury claims for my clients - finding out what steps and procedures could have been done differently in order to prevent an accident from happening in the first place.
Cutting corners can mean more than some ruined shoes. When it comes to health and safety at work, cutting corners can cost lives.
John Reeder is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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