Accident In A Care Home

The government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) advises that during 2011/12 in the health and residential care sector there were unfortunately 22 deaths suffered by members of the public who had been involved in a slipping, tripping or falling accident.

The HSE has recently prosecuted Doncaster Borough Council for breach of the safety laws in relation to an accident suffered by an elderly resident in one of its care homes after she fell almost 2 metres into an open manhole.

The care home was suffering a problem with a blocked drain and a young inexperienced plumber was working alone clearing the blockage. The inspection chamber for the blocked drain was located outside a fire door and the plumber left the inspection hole open whilst he went to get some equipment. Unfortunately, a resident in the care home walked out of the fire door and into the open inspection chamber.

Doncaster Borough Council admitted being in breach of section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the magistrates’ court ordered it to pay a £5,000 fine plus costs in relation to the accident.

The accident shows the importance of carrying out risk assessments and having safe work methods even for tasks that appear at first glance to be relatively straight forward. All employers have a legal obligation to train their employees to carry out work in a safe manner and to provide the necessary equipment to their workers. In the accident at the care home Doncaster Borough Council had failed to train its plumber in safety procedures and had not supplied him with barriers to use to prevent people entering the area where he was working. Fortunately, the elderly resident who fell in the open manhole sustained only minor injuries, but it was a distressing experience for her and one that could easily have been avoided if the work have been safely carried out.

Cyclist Accidents In Leeds

Obesity causes high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks and during a debate this summer in the House of Lords on funding health and social care it was said that there is an obesity epidemic that is bankrupting the National Health Service.

However, people are put off using a bicycle for normal journeys to the shops, work or to see a friend because they do not believe that the roads are safe for cyclists.

The Department For Transport produces yearly statistics based on accidents that are reported to the police for road accident casualties and the figures for 2011 showed that more than 52 people are injured in road accidents every day. In 2011 there were 107 people fatally injured in road accidents, a 3% increase on the total killed during 2010.

The Government has been criticized for not investing more money in improving road safety.  In the British Medical Journal the Government has been described as just offering “crumbs from the table” with its small grant to fund cycling infrastructure.

The Government is encouraging people to exercise more and cycle short journeys instead of taking the car, but in general people believe that the roads are designed for cars and not the safety of cyclists.

The highway network’s inadequacies for cycle travel has become increasingly evident as more people have tried to take up cycling. It is believed that there has been a 70% increase in the number of cyclists travelling into Leeds city centre during the morning peak travel time compared to the number of cyclists in 2007. Unfortunately, cyclists make up a disproportionate number of the casualties in road accidents and in 2011 cyclists made up 9% of all road casualties in Leeds. The road accident statistics for Leeds in 2011 showed a reduction in the number of all road accident casualties apart from cyclists and bikers.

The Government knows the cycle accident hotspots on Leeds’ roads and they are on the 2 main radial corridors into Leeds city centre: the A660 Woodhouse Lane/Otley Road and the A65 Kirkstall Road/Abbey Road. During the past 5 years 38% of all adult cyclist casualties on A roads in Leeds have occurred on these 2 roads. Cycle lanes were installed on these roads 10 years ago and now there will be funding to upgrade the cycle lanes.

It is the side road junctions along the A roads where most of the cyclist accidents occur. The Victoria Road junction on the A660 road is a cycle accident hotspot and the Government has now said that it will help fund works to improve the junction, including demolishing an adjacent building to widen the junction.

Safety units across Yorkshire have advised that the crowded condition of the roads is not the only cause of bicycle accidents and that car drivers should also improve their driving to avoid accidents with cyclists. It is believed that 75% of cyclist accidents are the result of a collision with another vehicle. The message from the safety units is that if you are not expecting to see a cyclist, you may not until it is too late. Therefore, car drivers should be aware of their blind spots and check that they are clear before changing lanes or attempting a manoeuvre.

More information: City Cycling by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler (published 2012)

Leeds District Road Casualties 2011, Leeds City Council

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