I have a great interest in the safety of employees whilst at work. I believe passionately that employers should make sure that the people who work for them are safe and that proper compensation should be paid to people who are injured at work. But I have noticed a worrying recent trend towards reducing workers' safety and protection. The recently proposed changes in accident reporting rules are another dangerous example of this trend.
New proposed changes by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are a really worrying development so far as workers' safety is concerned. It is yet another costs cutting measure which puts business profits before the safety of people working in those businesses.
At the moment businesses have to report injuries to the HSE if a worker is off work for three days because of a workplace accident. The new proposals are that this period should be extended to seven days. And what is the justification for this change? Well, wait for it, it will save businesses £7.91 for each report not submitted.
Why is this bad for workers? Because it will put them at a greater risk of injury as important lessons may not be learned about the mistakes which have caused an injury in the past and, inevitably, it will lead to less HSE investigations and fewer workplace inspections. When the HSE investigate an accident it can force businesses to make changes to working practices and procedures to try to prevent future accidents.
So, workers' safety is prejudiced for the sake of £7.91 per report. It's the latest development in a worrying trend away from the protection of workers' safety towards the protection of business profits. I am sure this new, totally unjustifiable policy will mean that more people will be injured at work.
Chris Macwilliam is an experienced personal injury specialist and is the partner who heads the firm's personal injury department. He is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel and holds Senior Litigator status with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).