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Manchester Road Accident Holds Lessons For UK Employers
Posted by David Cant on August 18, 2014
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Lessons learnt from a Road Accident in Manchester

Stop Accidents Road SignA serious road traffic accident in Manchester has left the local council in danger of receiving a huge fine for breaching the Health and Safety at Work 1974 Act. Despite pleading guilty to the allegations, Manchester City Council had their case referred to the Minshull Street Crown Court for sentencing, where the defendant faces an unlimited fine.

What happened?

A routine day at work turned into a life threatening disaster for litter picker Paul Rose. Working on the busy Princes Parkway collecting roadside rubbish, 60-year old Paul was crossing back from the central reservation when he was struck by a car and thrown into the air.

The accident left Mr Rose with four cracked ribs, lacerations on his liver, a smashed pelvis, a collapsed lung and a fractured eye socket. Eye witnesses to the incident later reported that they thought Mr Rose had been killed in the incident.

After three days in intensive care and a further six weeks in hospital, Mr Rose was eventually cleared to go home. A year after the incident he is still on medication to manage his pain, cannot walk any distances unaided and experiences double vision.

Doctors believe that the only reason Mr Rose was not killed in the accident was thanks to his unusually high levels of fitness.

What does this case mean for employers?

When the case came to court, magistrates heard that no signs had been deployed to warn drivers that there may be workers in the road. As a result workers were left unprotected because drivers were neither aware of a potential problem, nor were they reducing their travelling speeds.

Paul Rose also gave evidence to the court explaining that he had never received any training about working on the roads safety since he started the job. Despite the council submitting evidence that a risk assessment for litter-picking duties had been drawn up in 2012, none of the staff contracted to carry out that duties claimed to have ever seen it.

Paul Rose’s case raises three important issues for employers. The first is ensure that a risk assessment is completed for any potentially risky activity and that it is introduced as part of the induction training for every employee. Any updates to the assessment should be communicated clearly too.

The second important lesson to take from Mr Rose’s experiences is that simply conducting a risk assessment is not enough to protect workers and the general public. The observations and recommendations put forward in a risk assessment need to be enacted each and every time that assessed activity is performed. In the case of this accident, employees should have been issued with signs that could be erected to warn drivers of workforce in the road.

The final caution is to do with the punishment. The magistrate hearing the case felt that the upper limit of £20,000 was insufficient damages considering the severity of the incident. The council now faces an unlimited fine as punishment for their negligence regarding employee safety.

Over to you then – how do you ensure your workplace risk assessments recommendations are applied every time?

About 

David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety, Health and Safety Services, Health and Safety Support

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