Government responds to DWP inquiry into fatal accidents

June 26, 2010
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In December 2008, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced an inquiry to see what more could be done to reduce work accidents which cause deaths and increase safety in the construction industry. The report, “One Death is too Many”, contained 28 recommendations for improving safety and preventing work accidents in the construction industry. The Government has now published its response to the report.

The Government has accepted 23 of the 28 recommendations made in the report. The main ones that are relevant for us as solicitors who act for clients making work accident compensation claims are summarised below:

Positive duties on directors to ensure good health and safety management. The Government agrees that directors have a duty to take positive action to ensure good health and safety management. Work accident compensation claims often turn on the application of regulations, the key one here being the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Where there is no trade union presence in a workplace, renewed efforts should be made to encourage genuine worker involvement so that workers are alert to risk and can speak out without unfair consequences about unsafe practices. This will hopefully lead to work accidents being avoided and alleviate the need for workers to make work accident compensation claims.

Construction workers should consider the impact on their families of unsafe working practices and accept responsibility for their own safety so far as they are able. Employees should join a trade union as their families are more likely to receive support and advice in the event of a fatal work accident; similarly a self-employed worker should have sufficient insurance to enable their families to obtain legal advice should it prove necessary if they wish to make a compensation claim for the work accident suffered by the deceased.

Renewed efforts should be made to tackle the issue of occupational health in the construction industry. This will have an impact on work accident compensation claims as it will be easier for solicitors to encourage those who have work accidents to get back into work after their work accident.

More needs to be done to improve second hand equipment or machinery still in circulation. Individuals or companies hiring this equipment should also ensure that they are fully aware of the capabilities of such machinery and their possible dangers and that they are sufficiently trained to identify any faults in the equipment. This is another part of the report which refers to the Regulations which underpin many work accident compensation claims, in this case, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

An awareness raising campaign so individual workers and companies take the issue of reporting accidents more seriously. This is obviously very important for us as solicitors as one of the key components of being able to successfully prove a work accident claim is a contemporaneous record of the accident having happened.

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