Risk of industrial injuries higher in first six months

Statistics from the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) and the Labour Force Survey indicate a doubled risk of industrial injuries in the first six months of employment. In fact, workers are about as likely to have an accident in the first six months as during the whole of the rest of their working life.

Overall, in 2009/10, HSE statistics indicate that 1.3 million people who had worked in the past year were suffering from industrial injuries or work-related illnesses. Of these 555,000 were new cases. In the same year, 152 people were killed at work, a rate of 0.5 per 100,000 workers. This equated to 28.5 million working days lost. A disproportionately high number of these injuries occurred in the first 6 months of employment, gradually decreasing in the first 5 years.

One eighteen year old had just started a part-time job in a restaurant when he was asked to pour hot cooking oil through a filter to clean it. This was something he’d never done before and he asked for an apron and gloves but was told he didn’t need them. Whilst he was doing this task, the oil spilled. He suffered from third degree burns on his neck, chest, hands, stomach, groin and feet. This has caused long-term pain. The accident was both foreseeable and preventable. The young worker did not know enough about his rights or feel comfortable enough in the job to refuse to do the task and this resulted in a horrific injury.

The additional risk for new starters may arise because of a lack of experience in a new workplace and a lack of familiarity with the workplace environment. Workers may also be reluctant to raise concerns because of eagerness to impress new colleagues and managers or they may not know the procedures for raising concerns. Because they’re new, workers may not be able to recognise hazards and may not understand rules which could seem obvious to everyone else so are never properly explained.

New starters are also in a vulnerable position in terms of their contracted position and if an injury or illness results in taking time off work, they may find themselves without a job.

Another teenager was working as an apprentice metalworker. He had been doing the job for 2 weeks when he fell from a ladder. He is now paralysed from the waist down and will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He had not received any safety training on the job – the accident could easily have been prevented if his employer had undertaken a thorough risk assessment and induction procedure.

Industrial injuries can have devastating consequences. Steps should be taken to protect workers from injury from their very first day and particular care should be taken as workers get used to their new roles. If you have been injured at work as a result of the negligence of your employer, Macks Solicitors are available to give expert legal advice about the possibility of making a claim for compensation.

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