Healthy Workplaces

The manufacturing sector employs about 10% of the British workforce, and according to the government’s Health and Safety Executive, around 20% of workplace fatal accidents and notifiable accidents occur in manufacturing. 

All businesses have a legal obligation to protect their employees and health and safety cannot be seen as a luxury, even during times of economic austerity. No one should be injured or made ill at work. In any event, following safe work practices saves businesses money through not having employees off work on sick leave due to injury or ill health.

There have been improvements in workplace safety over past decades, however accidents at work continue to happen every week. The HSE’ s figures state that in the manufacturing sector alone during 2012/13 unfortunately 20 people suffered fatal accidents at work in the UK.

Many accidents that occur are easily preventable through good safety management, however both large international companies and also small manufacturing companies sometimes disregard basic safety practices, resulting in employees suffering accidents.

A Bolton company that manufactures fabrics was prosecuted in Trafford Magistrates Court after one of its employees suffered an accident whilst cleaning a machine. The circumstances of the accident showed how the company’s failure to have a safe system of work for cleaning the machine led to the employee being dragged into the machine, when a colleague unexpectedly started the machine whilst he was still cleaning it. The employee’s left foot and leg were pulled into the rollers of the machine causing broken bones in his foot and ankle.

It should have been a straightforward task to clean the machine, however as a result of the company having failed to carry out regular safety inspections of the condition of the machine and failing to have in place a safe procedure for the work of cleaning the machine, the situation was almost “an accident waiting to happen” for the employee cleaning the machine.

The HSE prosecuted the manufacturing company for breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the company pleaded guilty, receiving a fine of £8,000 and being ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £10,103.