Running a successful business is not easy and there are many things for bosses to think about. For example, it may be necessary for business owners to invest in employee liability insurance. This can help to cover their costs in the event that their staff members suffer accidents while performing their roles.
Highlighting the importance of liability insurance, a firm was recently in the dock over an incident in which an employee’s lower leg was badly crushed. The individual, who did not want to be named, was working for an engineering firm in Gateshead in October 2012 when the accident occurred.
The 49-year-old had been asked to investigate and repair a fault on a mechanical power press. The mechanism on top of the press included a large gear train, which comprised a series of large-toothed cogs that mesh together. These gears were not guarded.
In order to repair the machine, the employee had to reset a solenoid valve on top of the press very close to the unguarded gear train. He had little room to manoeuvre and his right leg trailed into the dangerous area. When the valve was reset, the press started to operate again and the gears turned. This caused the worker’s right foot to be pulled in and he suffered serious crush injuries.
As a result of the accident, the man had to have lower part of his leg amputated. He also had to stay in hospital for a lengthy period of time and he now relies on a prosthetic leg. He still requires physiotherapy and, while he has since returned to work, he is restricted concerning the tasks he is able to undertake.
During an investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was found that there had been no guard on the gear train for between two and three years prior to the accident.
At a recent hearing, the company involved was issued a fine of £20,000 and it was ordered to pay £904 in costs, as well as a £100 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Wilson said: “It was the company’s responsibility to ensure that work equipment was safe and that dangerous moving parts were guarded. But for two to three years, [the firm] required staff to approach the danger area around the gears, yet continuously failed to identify and address the matter of the missing guards.”
He added: “Too many incidents occur during the setting up and the undertaking of maintenance tasks on machinery where often guards or other protective devices are moved or removed. They are easily avoided if suitable precautions are taken to prevent access to dangerous moving parts.”
Peace of mind
Managers must do all they can to minimise the risks that exist to their workers’ safety. However, it may be impossible to entirely remove all danger. By making sure they have suitable liability insurance in place, bosses can enjoy greater peace of mind that their finances will withstand any possible legal action.