Accidents Involving Machinery – Employers Must Take More Care
Employers have a duty to make sure that the machines their workers use are safe. That includes making sure that effective measures are taken to prevent workers coming into contact with dangerous parts of machinery, or to make sure that any dangerous parts are stopped before a worker comes into contact with them.
This is a very simple thing to achieve. All an employer has to do is to carry out a risk assessment and act upon it. An employer should look at the machinery its workers use and ask “Is there a risk that someone might get hurt using this machine?”. If so, and if the machine has to be used, then he should identify those risks and take steps to eliminate them.
Often the only step required is to make sure that a guard is fitted so that a worker cannot come into contact with dangerous moving machinery parts. Making sure that a machine (or part of it) is stopped or shut down whilst some jobs are performed (such as cleaning or maintenance) is another very simple step to take.
Sadly, simple as this may be, many employers do not do this and do not take the very simple steps to safeguard their workers. Time and time again I come across cases where risk assessments have not been carried out, where workers are told by their employers to clean machines whilst it is still running because “it takes too long to turn the machine off while you clean it” or where guards have not been fitted to obviously dangerous parts of a machine.
The Health & Safety Executive often highlight the dangers of workplace machinery and the obligations placed on employers to properly assess the risk. Examples of some recent prosecutions in these cases can be found here:
Sadly, employers are not listening and while this continues many workers are placed at risk of serious injury. For the worker who is injured the consequences can be devastating. Crushing a hand or losing fingers can, apart from the pain and suffering involved, mean that a worker loses wages due to being off work and becomes unemployable.
There will always be employers who are cavalier about the safety of their workers, putting profit first. So, if you are injured in an accident involving machinery then make sure that you look after your (and your families) interests by seeking help from a specialist personal injury solicitor.