company fined

Company fined £600,000 after a worker’s leg was crushed in a workplace accident

Company fined £600,000 after a worker’s leg was crushed in a workplace accident

The HSE has reported that a manufacturing company, AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited, has been fined £600,000 after a workplace accident resulted in a worker’s leg being crushed by a forklift truck. The worker was walking across a pedestrian crossing at the firm’s site in Birmingham when a forklift truck that was being driven by another worker hit him. This resulted in his ankle and leg being crushed, which required surgery and skin grafts.

The driver of the forklift failed to slow down when approaching the pedestrian crossing. In addition, his vision was restricted due to the forklift truck carrying intermediate bulk containers (IBSs).

An HSE investigation into the accident found the company had failed to provide an adequate risk assessment nor a safe system of work. As well as this there was a lack of appropriate supervision which led to the adoption and development of an unsafe custom and practice on site. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay £3,188.60 for the costs at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 3 April 2023.

You can find the full story on the HSE website.

Impact of a workplace accident

Accidents in the workplace can have a huge impact on any business, as they can cause loss of productivity, reduction of sales, low staff morale, loss of reputation – and at worst – closure.

If any worker suffers an injury during their employment, they have the right to workers’ compensation. Accidents are always recorded at the workplace for insurance purposes, therefore, it’s the responsibility of the business to make sure that all its employees understand their rights.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must report all events, such as dangerous incidents that could have caused death or injury. Under the act, every business must take ‘reasonable steps to prevent a serious incident in the workplace.’

Hidden Costs

A common misconception is that all workplace accidents – and costs – are recoverable through insurance. However, this is often an assumption and is not the case. The costs that are incurred through ill health, accidents and deaths at work are often referred to as the ‘iceberg effect’: visible costs that are recoverable; yet there are costs hidden below the waterline that are unrecoverable. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) estimates that these costs can be up to 10 times greater than the insured costs.

There are costs that directors, managers and owners immediately consider. These are generally loss of staff and cost to repair vehicles and/or industrial machinery. But the less obvious and often unrecoverable costs are:

  • Lost production time
  • Sick pay
  • Extra wages, overtime working and temporary labour
  • Lost time
  • Loss of product
  • Investigation time
  • FFI or prosecution fines
  • Loss of contracts and damage to reputation
  • Legal costs

Where do these hidden costs come out of? Usually company profit. If these accidents increase, so will the company’s insurance premiums. Furthermore, it goes without saying that needless accidents cost businesses money and, in turn, reduce profitability.

Scale of cost

The cost can be vast. In the UK alone, the cost associated with workplace accidents is £4.9bn per year. The average cost of an accident ranges from £1.6m per fatality, to £7,500 per non-fatal injury. These are figures that can damage, even devastate a business, whatever its size. They indicate and highlight the very need for health and safety best practice that greatly reduces the likelihood of accidents occurring in the workplace.

Accident prevention

There are simple rules to prevent accidents in the workplace. The main solutions are:

  • Be alert
  • Work steadily
  • Wear required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Follow instructions
  • Implement safe systems of work
  • Follow emergency instructions
  • Ensure all employees have sufficient training
  • Have documented risk assessments and ensure to share them with the workforce as well as consider all control measures.

In summary, accidents in the workplace can have a significant impact on a business, including loss of productivity, reduction of sales, low staff morale, and loss of reputation. Employers have a responsibility to report all incidents that could have caused death or injury under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as well as take reasonable steps to prevent serious incidents in the workplace. 

To find out more information about how HPC can assist you with ensuring you have everything in place to prevent accidents, get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037


Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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