Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sponsored Guest Post: Health and safety – finding the right balance with accident claims

When David Cameron made his headline grabbing attack on what he described as the “Health and Safety Culture” in a speech earlier this month, he seemed to have hit a chord with many people in Britain. But have health and safety regulations, and workplace accident claims really become a restrictive influence on employers and on the public at large?

Occupational health and safety grew out of a realisation in the early to mid 20th century that many fatal workplace accidents and injuries could be prevented. In recent years however, a common theme in the press has been the criticism both of excessive health and safety regulation and of compensation claims made by people injured in workplace accidents.

Much of the health and safety criticism focuses on so-call ‘health and safety myths’ which are often portrayed as fact. They include stories such as the old favourite that schoolchildren playing conkers were issued with safety goggles, which in fact referred to an isolated incident which had more to do with simple misinterpretation than it did with actual health and safety regulations.

Compensation claims come in for similar criticism when stories in the media report people who have received substantial settlements for what appear to be comparatively minor injuries. What isn’t reported in many cases is the life-long impact these injuries might have, and how they might affect a person’s ability to support themselves financially. Many large compensation settlements are mainly composed of the monies that the injured person could have been expected to earn had their injury not cut short their career, or left them unable to do their previous job.

When criticising these issues, it is important to look at whether any issues are the fault of excessive regulation, or whether the blame lies with the person or persons interpreting these regulations. Health and safety is about assessing risks in the workplace and taking appropriate action, it is not about wholesale banning of things such as school activities. Likewise, compensation claims solicitors are there to help genuinely injure people to seek redress for their injuries from those responsible.

Author: Neil Worrall

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