Week Commencing 11/03/2024 – In The News

Preventable fall lands fine

A company and its director have been fined after an employee was injured from a fall during the construction of eight new houses in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

The man, employed by Alba Construction (Midlands) Limited, had been working in one of the new properties on the former site of The Greyhound Inn on Upper St John Street when he fell through an open stairwell on 27 February 2022.

He fell onto the concrete floor below where he was found unconscious.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Alba Construction (Midlands) Limited had identified the risk of internal falls in their risk assessment process but failed to provide suitable measures to prevent them in this and other areas of the site. After the incident, three Prohibition Notices were served prohibiting further work at height activities on site until such steps had been taken.

The HSE investigation also found that company director, Bujar Cekrezi, failed to ensure that the necessary health and safety measures were implemented to protect employees and others, despite previous HSE interventions regarding work at height.

Read more about the incident on the HSM website.

Retail violence claims could cost £53M

Violent incidents in shops could cost the retail sector around £53million in personal injury claims from staff, according to insurance law experts at Forbes Solicitors.

During the past 12 months (January 2023-December 2023), 28,288 employer liability claims were logged on the national, not-for-profit Claims Portal Ltd, with a review by Forbes Solicitors revealing the average value of settled claims resolved via the Portal was £6,026 per case.

Retailers and insurers are increasingly at risk of covering such claims. The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) recent Crime Survey shows 41,000 violent incidents towards retail workers, averaging 113 per day, and 8,800 of these incidents resulting in injury. This could leave the retail sector facing claims topping £53m* from injured staff.

Claire Opacic, a partner in the insurance team at Forbes Solicitors comments, “Shop staff are being subjected to violent attacks, which puts their physical wellbeing and mental health at risk. Covering the costs of treatment, rehabilitation and loss of earnings caused by injuries are another consequence for retailers and insurers of a problem plaguing the retail industry.”

The BRC’s Crime Survey shows retailers are spending £1.2bn on crime prevention measures to deter theft and retail violence. Claire is urging retailers to take the same proactive approach to upholding their duty of care as an employer, checking they have updated risk assessments to reflect the increasing dangers faced in this regard, as well as making sure they have the right insurance cover in place to minimise their liabilities for the actions of thugs and criminals.

For more, visit the HSM website.

Experts reveal biggest fleet safety issue

Driver distraction is fast becoming the biggest safety problem for fleets, says RED Corporate Driver Training, mainly because of the huge expansion of digital functions in infotainment screens and vehicle cabins.

While phones, personal issues, other motorists and passengers have always been a factor in reduced driving focus, the trend for increasing numbers of entertainment and driving options to appear on screens and dials – to the point where some vehicles have almost no physical buttons at all – has tipped many drivers over the edge into dangerous levels of distraction.

Consequently, RED agrees with the announcement from Euro NCAP that from 2026 it will only start awarding five stars for safety to vehicles that have physical buttons for certain key operations.

RED believes that without more awareness of the issue, the problem of digital distraction is going to get worse, not better, and has published a free to download RED Advisory Paper on how to combat the problem.

Learn more on the HSM website.

First ever No Falls Week launched

The No Falls Foundation, the first and only UK-based charity for the work at height sector, is proud to be launching its first ever ‘No Falls Week’, a powerful campaign dedicated to promoting safe working at height.

Taking place between 13 and 17 May 2024, No Falls Week’s mission is simple yet crucial; to raise awareness about the importance of safe working at height, prevent falls and ensure everyone that works at height comes down safely.

It is estimated over 1 million businesses, and 10 million workers, carry out work involving some form of working at height every year. No Falls Week will provide the opportunity for organisations across all sectors to place a focus on work at height safety.

Falls from height are consistently the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the UK, with 40 people losing their lives at work due to a fall from height in 2022-2023. Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that falls from height were responsible for a third of all workplace deaths last year, up from a quarter the year before.

 Visit the HSM website to learn more.

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