Health and Safety – Why ever not

One feels compelled to express concern at the way in which this Government has set about trying to redress what they perceive as a compensation culture. The fever pitched attack on health and safety and the law surrounding it threatens to erode all.

There is good reason why the law relating to personal injury has slowly evolved to introduce protection such as the Factories Act of 1948 to the range of European legislation and directives that apply today. Protection from harm in the workplace was the basis for the Factories Act and it dealt amongst other things with age restrictions and physical checks to prevent exploitation of children and the vulnerable. Where money is to be made there will inevitably be corners to cut.

The government in addition to the cost cutting in personal injury law proposes to remove any civil liability attaching to the European regulations applicable to the workplace via a small amendment to a bill dealing with Enterprise and Regulatory reform. This will leave injured victims unable to rely upon legislation that should protect them from death and injury.

Sections of the media regularly report on ‘Elf and Safety’ mocking the lengths they consider employers and society has to go to in order to discharge their duty of care. None of this actually examines why the regulations are in place and the implications of them not being. Health and safety advisors are inevitably going to take their responsibilities seriously but often it is forgotten that the duty is not to avoid all injury at any cost but to simply take reasonable steps to prevent unnecessary injury being sustained.

Perhaps it would be preferable for us to return to times where risk assessments were not required and health and safety didn’t matter.  The best example, or worst whichever way you want to look at it, is the Health and Safety Executive back in 1898 warning of the dangers of asbestos. Those warnings went largely unheeded for 60 or more years and people are still needlessly dying today. The most famous victim of all Steve McQueen died from the terrible asbestos disease, mesothelioma, in 1980 attributed to his work for the US marines in the late 40′s.

Few if any would tend to the view that Hilsborough, Heysel, Zeebrugge and other disasters witnessed in the last few decades are just some of those things that are likely to happen from time to time. Prevention has always been better than cure and sadly the long suffering bereaved of any of the aforementioned tragedies would be bound to agree.

Changes to the impact of legislation and the changes to the legal system will leave innocent victims potentially unrepresented and undercompensated. In the event of serious injury where legal fault can be established the insurance company involved will meet the cost of rehabilitation, care and loss of income and not the taxpayer.

If you are wronged and spend a life condemned to physical misery is it right that you then have to rely on the state to provide what they are able to rather than what you actually need? I think we all know the answer to that.

If you have an accident at work and feel you should be applicable for compensation, contact a specialist accident and injury solicitor to ensure you get the money and compensation you are due.

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