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Understanding the importance of health and safety in the construction industry

Health and safety in the workplace is increasingly high on the agenda for businesses working in the construction sector, but while the overall number of workplace accidents in the UK construction industry has been on a downward trend over the past decade, there were still 65,000 self-reported workplace injuries in the last year.

These accidents resulted in 0.5 million days off work in 2014/15 which – when those periods are unpaid – can cause significant financial strain for hardworking people. Minster Law client, Derrick Worton, is a construction worker who found himself in this situation after becoming one of the 19% injured by falling from a height while working on a building site.

So, why are so many accidents in the construction industry still happening and how can we prevent them or lessen their impact?

Commenting on the dangers in the workplace, Minster Law Chartered legal Executive, Craig Croft-Rayner says: “We believe that employers in the construction industry should better recognise the dangers of building sites as well as the potential accidents that can occur and ensure adequate health and safety processes are put into place to protect their workforce.”

At Minster Law, we regularly deal with clients who have been hurt in the workplace due to negligence and see first-hand the longstanding impact that this can have. Prevention is undoubtedly better than cure, but when accidents do strike there are ways to lessen the impact on the life of the injured person.

A first step in reducing the emotional and financial trauma is ensuring that employers admit liability early, enabling the employee affected to focus on recovery and returning to work as soon as possible, safe in the knowledge that they will not struggle to cover bills and overheads in the interim.

Derrick Worton’s fall of more than seven metres to the ground was due to unsecured scaffolding, but his employer failed to accept responsibility early in the process. Derrick dislocated his shoulder in the fall, which required surgery followed by five months physiotherapy, meaning he was unable to work.

That inability to work, for a man who was used to being in employment, caused not only a financial burden but also the psychological effects of joblessness.

The length of time cases take to finalise is one of the most difficult aspects involved in any legal battle and the most frequent and recurring reason for this is the admittance of liability.

Things can’t run as smoothly if liability is an ongoing battle and the injured person and their family are the ones who usually suffer as a result, due to delays in settlement and the wider effect this has on their lives. Admitting liability is one thing that could reduce settlement times and help clients to recover more quickly in order to re-establish a regular routine and, where possible, return to work.

Statistical source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/construction/construction.pdf