The State of Britain’s Construction Sites

A bit of history

In January 2011 a 31 year old Romanian man, Silviu Radulescu, suffered fatal head injuries after a 2.5 tonne lift he was standing on plunged five stories.  He had been working at the building site on John Islip Street in London for one week and had not received adequate training for the task he was assigned to.  After a five day inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court, the jury found Mr Radulescu’s death had been unlawful and the family has demanded that his employers be prosecuted.

Jump forward to November 2013 and another labourer, Richard Laco, 31, was killed on site in north London when piles of concrete and steel came crashing down on top of him as a stairwell was being raised.  In March 2014 a 46 year old man was killed on the Docklands Light Railway site in Stratford after being struck by a piece of machinery.

These are just three examples of recent deaths in the construction industry. Although the number of deaths has fallen overall, it still remains one of the most dangerous professions to work in.

Current Health and Safety Standards

As the economy grows ever stronger and the embattled construction industry of the last six years starts to flourish again, are the health and safety standards on British construction sites up to standard?

In 2011 the Health & Safety Executive which monitors standards within all industries had its funding cut by 35%.  This caused concern among health & safety campaigners, with one calling the situation “a ticking time bomb”.  The reason for the concern is that many attribute the relatively low injury figures of 2012 and 2013 (357 and 307 respectively, per 100,000 workers) to the economic slump which had a very negative effect on the construction industry.

However, as the industry comes out of the downturn, Heather Bryant, the Health & Safety Executive’s chief inspector of construction warned that there was “definitely a risk that injuries and fatalities could increase”. A cut to the HSE’s funding now may result in an inability to monitor standards across the industry at a time when it’s most needed.

The future

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has stated that 182,000 new jobs will be created in the industry over the next five years. However, to avoid an increase in injuries and fatalities, it is vital that the people employed are suitably qualified and properly trained. Small to medium size businesses account for around 70% of fatalities in the industry, and around 40% of workers (rising to 90% in the London area) are self-employed and hired on a casual basis.

As the industry grows this can create a potentially dangerous situation as smaller firms are potentially more likely to cut corners with regards to health & safety and a casual worker is less likely to speak up about unsafe practices because he or she knows they can be let go at a moment’s notice.

The casual nature of employment within the industry also makes it difficult and often uneconomical to implement and deliver long-term training programs to ensure every worker is adequately trained and prepared for the work required.  Building a strong, safety-conscious work culture in such a casualised industry is also challenging, as work colleagues and foreman can change from job to job. Therefore solid, best practice knowledge and formal work-safe practices and procedures are very difficult to put in place.

While an increase in construction work is welcome and extremely good for the British economy, companies need to ensure that their health and safety strategies are firmly implemented now in order to prevent a future increase of lives lost or damaged forever due to preventable workplace injuries.

If you have suffered an injury at a construction site and you believe it was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation – for more information see our construction injury claims page. If you wish to talk further about your situation contact us on 0845 345 4444 or fill in our contact form, and our friendly advisers will discuss your situation with you.

Dispelling the Myths around Concussion

The most common type of injury sustained after a blow to the head is concussion.  Concussion can range from being a minor incident which requires rest and observation at home, to a severe, life-threatening injury.

As an example of this latter scenario, in April 2014 a coroner ruled that a 14 year old boy died as a result of “second impact syndrome”.  The boy was participating in a school rugby match when he suffered two concussive type injuries in quick succession which saw him collapse to the ground and tragically never regain consciousness.

Listed below are some of the myths surrounding concussion that need to be dispelled in order to protect people from more serious injury.

Myth number 1.  You have to be knocked out to receive a concussion.

You do not have to be knocked unconscious for concussion to occur. It happens when a blow to the head or body, or a fall or other injury shakes and jars the brain inside the skull.  This affects the reticular activating system in the brain which controls your sense of awareness and consciousness.

If you suspect you or a person you are with has concussion, look for the following signs:

• Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
• Temporary loss of consciousness
• Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
• Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
• Dizziness or “seeing stars”
• Ringing in the ears
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Slurred speech
• Delayed response to questions
• Appearing dazed
• Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

• Concentration and memory complaints
• Irritability and other personality changes
• Sensitivity to light and noise
• Sleep disturbances
• Psychological adjustment problems and depression
• Disorders of taste and smell


Head trauma is very common in young children. If your child has received anything more than a light bump on the head, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends you should seek medical advice.  Nonverbal clues of a concussion in children may include:

• Appearing dazed
• Listlessness and tiring easily
• Irritability and crankiness
• Loss of balance and unsteady walking
• Crying excessively
• Change in eating or sleeping patterns
• Lack of interest in favourite toys

Myth number 2.  Players can carry on playing after a severe blow to the head if they feel up to it.

One of the most common situations for concussion to occur is on the sports field.  Players are particularly vulnerable in contact sports such as rugby, boxing and football.

Following recent high profile cases, sporting associations have put more emphasis on alerting players to the dangers of multiple concussions over a lifetime.

Symptoms of concussion may not appear immediately after an accident.  Therefore, if a player has experienced a severe blow to the head and concussion is suspected, they should be taken out of the game immediately.  If they continue to play there is a real risk of becoming concussed for a second time causing “second impact syndrome” which can lead to long-term, serious brain damage or death.

Myth number 3.  Concussion can only be caused by a direct blow to the head.

Concussion can be caused by a sudden violent movement of the head caused by an external force applied to the body, for example, a rugby tackle or a car accident.

Myth number 4.  A little concussion is no big deal.

A concussion is considered to be a mild traumatic brain injury.  If it is not treated properly it can lead to long-term disability or even death.  Your brain needs time to heal and rest before you return to normal, day-to-day activity.

A brain injury is always serious and should be treated as such.  If you have suffered from a concussion, or suspect someone close to you has it, seek medical advice straight away.

If you have suffered an injury which could have been avoided, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim, for more information visit our personal injury page. If you would rather speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in this contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.

Keeping Your Child Safe at School

In April 2014, both the Manchester Evening News and The Yorkshire Post reported that schools in the Greater Manchester area and Yorkshire had paid out £1.5 million and over £1 million pounds respectively for personal injury claims.  Payouts included:

• £22,000 to a student injured in a school activity in Tameside
• £8,000 awarded to a pupil in Rochdale after goal posts fell on him
• £9,494 awarded to a child who was injured after being pushed by another child
• £35,000 paid to a student in Leeds who suffered a broken limb
• £16.000 awarded to a pupil injured during a science experiment

Wayne Dunning, from ELAS Health and Safety Consultants, who compiled the reports detailing school personal injury claims stated;

“These figures are shocking and clearly not enough is being done to protect children in schools from what are, in the main, preventable accidents. Health and safety is not being managed properly in the education sector and this is costing taxpayers millions, not only in direct compensation, but also additional hidden costs from administration. It’s clear from the nature of the accidents that many areas are being overlooked by school managers and teachers, not through any fault of their own, but because they haven’t received the necessary training required to identify the potential risks and hazards that may prevent an accident”.

Responsibility for safety standards

In light of these figures, parents maybe asking themselves, “who is responsible for safety standards at my child’s school, and what can I do if I feel that the standards are not high enough?”

According to the UK Government website, every school should have its own health and safety policy document.  Parents should be able to access and read this document at anytime.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

If your child is involved in an incident at school you can report it to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) who will investigate the situation and may prosecute the school if they find there was negligence.

In June 2013 Manningtree High School in Essex was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £1,641 in costs after pleading guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to adequately protect pupils against the risk of falls.  The incident in question involved a 14 year old pupil falling from a climbing wall while participating in lead-climbing, and fracturing his heel bone.  The HSE found that the school did not have an adequate safety management system in place for lead-climbing and that the instructor who was present was not competent to teach or supervise the activity.

Injuries in schools

According to HSE statistics slips, trips and falls account for around 40% of all injuries recorded in schools.

However, although it is important to keep children safe and protected from major harm, many adults react strongly to any push towards a “cotton wool culture” for children.  People recognise the importance of free play and the need for children to learn risk-assessment by actually taking the odd risk.

In 2012 the HSE released a high level statement emphasising how important play is for children’s development and wellbeing.  Its key message to play providers (which includes schools) was ‘Those providing play opportunities should focus on controlling the real risks, while securing or increasing the benefits – not on the paperwork’.

The balancing between the need to take risks in order to learn and keeping vulnerable children safe is something both parents and schools struggle to maintain.  However, you have a right to expect that your child will be safe at school and be protected from serious physical and psychological injury while they in their school’s care.

You could be entitled to make a personal injury claim, more detailed information can be found here. To speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in this contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.

The rear-end shunt – Is the Following Driver Always To Blame?

When it comes to rear-end motor vehicle collisions, there is a strong assumption that the rear vehicle is 100% at fault regardless of whether the driver of the first vehicle drove in a way that may have contributed to the accident.

The common belief “you should be able to stop in time no matter what the circumstances” is very entrenched in our general thinking. However, whist this is true in a majority of cases, the courts have, on occasion, found the driver of the front vehicle to be partly responsible for rear-end shunts.

Cases of negligence

The most common scenario in which the courts will apportion blame is when the driver of the first vehicle brakes without warning, and the second vehicle, unable to stop in time, drives into them. In order to apportion part of the blame, the driver in the rear vehicle must show negligence on the part of the driver of the front vehicle.

What is negligence?

Understanding negligence can be quite difficult for a lay-person without any legal knowledge or background, but it is something that can be useful to be aware of.

The famous definition of negligence is taken from a case held over 100 years ago, but is still in place today. It is either:

• The omission to do something which a reasonable man would normally do in the situation


• Doing something that a reasonable person would not do in those circumstances

Proving negligence

When it comes to proving negligence in a motor vehicle accident of any kind, witnesses are crucial in assisting the court to establish the facts.

This was highlighted in one case from three years ago . This involved, a woman – Margaret Anderson – being rear-end shunted by a lorry driven by a Warburton’s employee.

She was driving on a dual carriageway and overtook a lorry. She then noticed smoke coming from the rear of her car and realised she needed to stop. According to her argument in court, she didn’t see the sign for an upcoming lay-by, and stopped just at the end of it. Her car was partially sticking out onto the carriageway and it was here that she was struck by the lorry.

A police officer who gave evidence stated that the claimant could have pulled her car further over to the left so it was not protruding over the white line marking the edge of the carriageway. A witness to the accident gave evidence that the driver of the lorry gradually reduced his speed to 20-25mph and the smoke became so thick that at one point he (the witness) could no longer see the lorry.

Who’s to blame?

The judge held that blame should be apportioned 2/3 to Mrs. Anderson and 1/3 to the lorry driver on account that although he had slowed down he was still driving too fast for the conditions. Margaret Anderson had to take a greater portion of the responsibility as the judge ruled that her panic was not sufficient reason for not seeing and using the lay-by to park her car safely. Also when she did stop her car, she could have manoeuvred it into a safer position further off the carriageway.

Will the shunter ever be blameless?

It is rare for the shunter to be held totally blameless. In another case, from the 60s , the driver of the rear vehicle was held to be 20% liable even though the lorry that he drove into was found to have no rear lights or reflector, and it was blocking half of a snow-covered road at the time of the accident.

It has happened however, in a case from 2000 . Due to vehicle defects, the driver of a lorry came to an immediate halt without the rear brake lights activating. The cars immediately behind the lorry were able to swerve onto the hard shoulder, however, there was nowhere for the driver of a lorry travelling behind the cars to go.

The driver was not travelling at excessive speed, and although he applied his brakes, he was not able to stop in time to avoid rear-shunting the lorry in front of him.

The judge held that safe driving speeds and distances were those at which a driver was capable of dealing with foreseeable events. The immediate and abrupt halt of a lorry did not fit into this category of a foreseeable event, in this case.

It all depends on the circumstances

It always depends on the individual circumstances of the case, as no two accidents will ever be the same. This means that cases involving rear-end shunts are considered on a case-by-case basis. It’s therefore important to seek legal advice as soon as possible, especially if you sustained a personal injury in the accident.

For more information on car accident claims, view our dedicated page. To find out what you may be entitled to and to get our expert ‘no win, no fee’ solicitors on board with your car accident claim, contact Injury Lawyers 4U today on 0845 345 4444. Alternatively, fill in the form to arrange a call back at your convenience from one of our team.

Tips for Staying Safe Abroad

Most vacations are incident free and holiday makers return home with nothing more concerning than a little sunburn and those extra pounds they lost in preparation for their trip.

However, sometimes unfortunate incidences can occur abroad. So here is a list of safety precautions you can take to minimise your risk and increase your chances of returning home happy and healthy.

Take Out Travel Insurance and Keep Copies of Documents

Although it can seem like an extra holiday expense, if you become ill or suffer a personal injury overseas, travel insurance becomes worth its weight in gold.  According to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, an air ambulance from the east coast of the United States to Britain would set you back £35-45000.00.

Many people believe they are completely covered for medical mishaps in Europe if they have an EHIC card; however, this simply covers basic medical costs and only in state hospitals.  It is worth having the added protection of travel insurance in case an unforeseen, major emergency befalls you.

Make sure you have copies of your passport, insurance and other important documents.  Keep one copy with a trusted person at home and one copy in the safe of your hotel.

Research Your Destination

Take some time to discover a little about the country you will be visiting. Is there a history of civil unrest?  Recently popular destinations such as Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, Greece and Ukraine (the ninth most popular tourist destination in Europe in 2012) have been affected by protests turning violent. In most cases holiday resorts are not affected, but if you are planning to visit the sights in major metropolitan areas, check with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to see if there are any government warnings applicable to your destination.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself caught up in a protest or riot, move to the edge of the crowd and from there walk away from the gathering.  DO NOT take any photographs or start filming. Protesters do not want to be identified and may take serious measures to remove your camera or phone from you. If you are in your hotel, remain inside, lock the doors, close the curtains and stay away from the windows.

Take Precautions When Buying Food and Drinking Water

Traveller’s tummy, Delhi belly, bacterial gastroenteritis, whatever name you give it, nothing will ruin your holiday faster than a bout of food poisoning.  Depending on its severity the experience can range from having to spend a few miserable days cloistered in your hotel room, to requiring medical treatment at the local hospital.

Food poisoning is caused by contaminated food and water.  The standards of food health and safety can vary greatly from country to country, but here are a few pointers that may help you avoid the misery of contracting food poisoning abroad:

• Check to see if the tap water in the country you are visiting is safe to drink. If it is considered unsafe, drink bottled or sterilised water and avoid ice.
• Do not consume food from street vendors.
• Research eating establishments on the internet or in travel guides and only eat in places which have been recommended.
• Eat your food piping hot.
• Avoid seafood, salads and dairy products in countries where cases of food poisoning are common.

Watch How Much You Drink and ALWAYS Keep A Close Eye on Your Glass

Holidays are meant to be a time when you can let your hair down and many people throw caution to the wind when they are on an adventure abroad.  However, when you are intoxicated your judgement becomes clouded and you are far more likely to become a victim of a robbery or an assault.  It is also worth noting that most travel insurance companies will not provide cover for any incidences which result from a person being intoxicated.

By keeping these few tips in mind you can relax and make the most of your holiday, with the knowledge that you have taken the necessary precautions to protect you and your family.  Enjoy planning your summer break.

You could be entitled to make a personal injury claim – for more information on making a poisoning claim, more detailed information can be found here. To speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in this contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.