Does Money Take Priority Over the Safety of Your Staff?
Hayley Jolly

Does Money Take Priority Over the Safety of Your Staff?

Hi Guys!

Most of you know me as the happy one from ACG Compliance, for those of you who don’t know me I am Hayley Jolly, Sales and Marketing Coordinator for ACG Compliance. We are a North East based health and safety training and consultancy organisation.

Moving forward, I will be publishing a blog every fortnight focusing on the world of health and safety, there will be a range of other blogs being circulated from our website (www.acgcompliance.co.uk) and social media platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn etc) by more of my colleagues here at ACG.

I will be discussing incidents that have occurred when health and safety haven’t been managed correctly, or taken seriously, which surprisingly, happens an awful lot in the UK and beyond.

My first topic of discussion is regarding a faulty Fork Lift Truck that overturned and killed a 19-year-old employee at a Leicestershire based vinyl company. No one should die at work, but for me on a personal note, reading the fact that he was only 19 gave me tingles! Such a young and tender age, the poor soul had not lived his life to the fullest.

It transpired that there were many causes of this young man’s death. The sad fact is that basic training was not carried out when he was first employed. This could have been because the employer was unwilling to pay for training, or wouldn’t allow ‘valuable production’ time to be sacrificed to schedule a training session. By ensuring the implementation of an effective induction training programme, this tragedy may not have happened!

The awkward element for the prosecution with this case was that it was difficult for them to determine whether the training was completely forgotten about by the employer or that they “assumed” the victim possessed the skills and training required to complete his job safely.

The truck overturned due to the high speed it was being operated at. The young man wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and when the Fork Lift Truck overturned the safety frame, ironically, delivered a severe blow to his neck. This lead to his death.

Workers were also not shown the risk assessments for the task which restricted the site speed limit to 10mph. The Fork Lift Trucks had no speedometers and the company had no policy in place for seatbelt use. 2 of these elements are basic safety features and processes which should be adopted when using or even managing the movement of Fork Lift Trucks.

His Mother was rightfully disgusted to find out that the company cut various corners, ultimately leading to her son’s death. She said “I am heartbroken and angry that my son could go to work and be killed because his employer took so little care of him, failed to train him or make sure the workplace was safe. It is utterly shocking that this can happen even now.”

“The directors who made the decisions will be now able to get on with their lives, but we are serving a life sentence.”

“Any fine they have paid is nothing, no penalty at all compared to the penalty we face – lifelong torment, endless sadness and grief without our son.”

The family says their grief has been made worse by the company failing to acknowledge her son’s death.

This horrific tragedy was caused by gross negligence which, worryingly, is still common in U.K workplaces today. HSE inspector Berian Price said the “tragic incident” could have easily been prevented.

It is deeply concerning and more so upsetting, that large organisations in the UK are still taking shortcuts and neglecting their legal duties to provide adequate training provisions. Employers must make a suitable assessment of risk, which clearly wasn’t completed in the lead up to this accident. I remember my IOSH Managing Safely training and, although this was only a level 2 qualification, I quickly learnt that shortcuts lead to accidents. It is distressing to see that the result of this incident was a fatality.

Remember, your staff are your biggest asset and should you take reasonable steps to deliver the correct and suitable training, relevant instruction by toolbox talks, method statements and risk assessments, including the provision of the right supervision, you will be adhering to legislative requirements. Always aim to go that one step beyond and remember your duty of care continues throughout the duration of specific jobs so please ensure to continually improve and identify any unforeseen hazards!

Would you put your employee’s lives at risk to save a few hundred pounds?

I see it a lot working in sales and being very customer focused. Employers will either opt to deliver training in-house or may decide to neglect training completely. It’s the ones that opt to not deliver training at all which make the hairs stick up on my arm!

I am finding a lot of the employers we contact use the excuse of “we only have 3 employees, the other 10 are contractors”, just because you may only have 3 people on your books doesn’t mean that you do not owe them a duty of care? There is a misconception that contractors are not your responsibility when employed by organisations to conduct work on their behalf, well regardless we must be doing a suitable assessment of their competencies. Yes ok, you might not need to pay for their training but surely you should be referring them to a training provider or encouraging them to sit an internal course to gain the correct knowledge and experience before commencing work?

On a lighter note, I think it’s a good opportunity to thank and congratulate all of our current clients and future clients for acknowledging that training (no matter who you use or how you deliver it) is a fundamental requirement and tool in achieving high health and safety standards.

I will continue to contact as many employers as I can to ensure that training remains fresh in their minds!

Don’t make the same mistakes as this company, put your employee’s competencies and training at the front of your mind. Don’t take risks and choose the right training provider, it might just save a life.

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