Could 'Freedom Day' Lead To More Accidents At Work?

accident at work compensationBusiness Minister Michael Fallon heralded October 1st as ‘Freedom Day’, claiming that red tape has been cut for businesses and that this should improve growth prospects for the UK’s companies. However, personal injury solicitors are concerned that the only ‘red tape’ that has been cut relates to workplace health and safety, and not only could the legislation lead to more accidents at work, but it could also make it harder for the victims of these accidents to claim personal injuries compensation.

Some of the reforms that will affect accident at work compensation claims include:

–          Reforming civil liability rules for health and safety law breaches so that employers may not be liable in accident at work compensation claims if they can show they have taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent incidents form occurring

–          Reforming legislation relating to third-party harassment, so employers may not be responsible if customers, members of the public or other third parties harass their staff members

–          Changing the rules relating to the mandatory reporting of injuries, which could see a fewer number of accident at work reports being made

–          Extending Primary Authority to improve accessibility and so this authority is responsible for a larger number of regulations

–          Replacing statutory reporting forms with more flexible forms to simplify requirements relating to reporting accidents at work

–          Removing the need for the Health and Safety Executive to approve appointed first-aid personnel’s qualifications and trainings

Local Government Minister Mark Prisk suggested that cutting back this red tape could save UK employers around £212 million every year. While previous initiatives, including increasing the number of town centre parking spaces and changing planning rules, did not necessarily concern no win no fee solicitors, the new initiatives are striking right into the heart of employee health and safety and could potentially be responsible for a number of deaths and serious injuries caused by preventable workplace accidents, which could make this £212 million appear somewhat inconsequential.

While some employers might be planning to take advantage of ‘Freedom Day’ by scaling back their health and safety requirements, personal injury solicitors would urge them to focus on the freedom of their employees to come home safe and healthy after a day’s work rather than the freedom to put their safety at risk. Although ‘red tape’ and ‘health and safety gone mad’ may be common phrases in some newspapers, no win no fee solicitors are well aware that a huge number of people used to lose their lives in accidents at work or from industrial illnesses, and health and safety regulations are widely credited for reducing this number.

Countless people alive nowadays would have lost their lives were it not for ‘red tape’, and of all the areas in which red tape could be cut or where economic savings could be made, personal injury solicitors would say health and safety in the workplace must surely be one of the lowest priorities. We at Clearwater Solicitors hope the new legislation does not cause the number of fatal accidents at work to start to rise after years of sustained declines.