All employees have the right to a safe and healthy job and this includes temporary workers and agency workers. New workers are at a higher risk of suffering an accident or illness at work because they are not familiar with the workplace and systems of work. A hazard that is obvious to an experienced worker may not be obvious to a new starter in the company.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations place a legal duty on all organizations to conduct a risk assessment and inform employees about the hazards and risks of the work that they do. The company must put in place prevention measures and provide safety information and training to its employees so that they understand the risks to health in the workplace.
A recent case in Leicester Magistrates Court shows what may, unfortunately, happen if the safety regulations are ignored. An agency worker on his first day at work for a building products manufacturer was working with a concrete mixture slurry. He had not been given safety training and had also not been provided with the correct type of safety boots. As a consequence of standing in the cement slurry, he suffered serious chemical burns to his feet and ankles and was required to be a hospital inpatient for 3 weeks. After the incident whilst receiving plastic surgery and medical treatment.
The company that employed the 21-year-old agency worker pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court to breaching the safety laws. The company had failed to do a risk assessment for the concrete slurry work that was being done by the agency worker. The company was fined A?12,000 and ordered to pay costs. The agency worker is likely to be left with permanent scarring and injury to his feet and ankles caused by the chemical burns suffered on his first day at work.
The main safety laws relating to dangerous and hazardous chemicals and substances in the workplace are contained in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.
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