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.

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.

Rearward Facing Car Seats – Time for a Re-Think?

In 2009 the British Medical Journal published an article on the significant safety benefits of keeping children in rearward-facing seating when travelling in a motor vehicle. Now, five years after this paper was released, how accessible is information regarding the benefits of keeping your child rearward-facing for as long as possible? Has the United Kingdom changed its official guidelines regarding rearward-facing car seats? And finally, are they readily available in high street stores or do parents still have to import them from abroad?

The key points from the 2009 article are as follows:

• Many babies are switched from a rearward-facing car seat to a forward facing seat at nine kilograms (eight months of age for a boy on the 50th centile for weight)
• Excessive stretching or even severing of the spinal cord can result if a child is involved in a head-on crash while in a forward facing car seat
• Rearward-facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children under four years old
• Parents and guardians should be advised to keep young children in rearward-facing seats for as long as possible

The above points are taken from the original article which you can view here in full.

What happens in a motor vehicle accident when a young child is facing forward in their car seat?

In a young child, the head constitutes 25% of their body weight. Their bones are still developing so they are soft and consist mainly of cartilage. This allows them to tumble down stairs or fall off playground equipment and, apart from a few tears, often emerge relatively unscathed.

However, in a high-impact, frontal motor vehicle collision, this works against them in a terrible way. The weight of the head, when it is flung forward, can stretch the neck to the point where the spine snaps, causing internal decapitation. Due a child’s ribcage being soft, the internal organs are not protected against the tremendous force being pushed onto them by their car seat harness and the damage caused can be fatal.

Parent’s access to information

The internet can provide a wealth of information regarding the safety benefits of rearward-facing car seats for children up to four years of age. However:

• Many parents are not in a financial position to pay for an internet connection
• Some families do not speak English as their first language and are therefore limited to the amount of information they can access from British websites
• Lack of education and understanding can limit an individual’s ability to research and understand the information that may be available

Unfortunately, lack of accurate, easily obtainable information is one of the key reasons why even well-educated parents are unaware of the importance of keeping their child rearward-facing as long as possible.

Has the United Kingdom changed its official guidelines?

Some countries, including the United States and New Zealand, have changed their regulations and official guidelines to recommend children remain rearward-facing up until two years of age. Sweden’s official recommendations state that parents keep children rearward-facing until they are 4 years old (contrary to popular belief, this is not enshrined in law).

At present in the United Kingdom babies over nine kilograms (around eight to nine months old) can be forward-facing. However, new European Union regulations which were ratified by the UK in July 2013, known as the i-Size Regulations (or UN R129), state that children should remain rearward-facing until they are at least 15 months old. i-Size also requires that an ISOFIX click-and-go system is used to fit the car seat rather than the car’s own seatbelts. This reduces the chance of the car seat being fitted incorrectly. However, these new regulations will run alongside the existing regulations for the next few years.

Therefore, you can still buy and safely use car seats which comply with the current ECE R44/04. This is causing confusion among parents as they are no longer sure which regulations to follow. Again, uncertainty often arises due to lack of readily accessible information.

Have rearward-facing car seats become more available?

As recently as 2011 it was extremely difficult to purchase a rearward-facing car seat, suitable for a child up to four years of age in the United Kingdom. Caroline Green, mother of a three year old daughter says “The only reason I knew about the benefits of rearward-facing car seats was because my brother worked for Volvo and was involved in some of their safety testing”. She goes on to say; “It really frustrated me that I could not walk into a high street shop and purchase a rearward-facing car seat, I had to do a lot of research to find a stockist”.

Some high street retailers are now stocking rearward-facing car seat brands such as Maxi-cosi and Britax, however, the number is still fairly limited and the price is prohibitive to many individuals.

Sadly, at this point in time, many parents, especially those belonging to socio-economically deprived groups, are unable to give their child what could a be life-saving advantage in a motor vehicle accident. This is due to lack of knowledge, advice, and the current difficulty and expense of obtaining a rearward-facing car seat for children up to four years of age.

UK’s most dangerous sporting activities

Brits are a nation of sports lovers.  Whether it is watching a game of football on the TV or participating in one of the hundreds of different games played across the nation every Saturday and Sunday, we are addicted to the excitement of a great match.

Although most games are incident free, personal injuries can occur and sometimes these can be serious.  So which sports are the most likely to cause trauma?  Here is a list of the top five sporting activities most likely to see you visiting the Accident and Emergency department of your local hospital.


Figures released by the Department of Education in 2010 showed that 37% of British schools now offer Cheerleading as part of their physical education curriculum.  Although some may perceive this sport as fluffy, competitive cheerleading is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

It is also highly skilled and very dangerous.  According to research from the United States, 66% of catastrophic sporting injuries (meaning injuries resulting in permanent disabilities or medical issues) amongst females are caused by cheerleading, making it by far the most dangerous sport for women.


In 2010 the Edinburgh University’s Centre for International Public Health Policy, released findings of a study concerning 193 rugby matches at five schools between January and April 2009.  The matches resulted in 37 injuries, of which 20 were seen at A&E and one resulted in an overnight stay in hospital for a spinal injury.  One of the study’s authors, Professor Allyson Pollock, called for the banning of high tackles and scrums in rugby played at junior level because of the high risk of injury.

At premiership level, in the 2008/09 season, 769 match injuries were reported, which is an average of two injuries per club per match.

The most common type of injury sustained in rugby is concussion.  In 2012, research from the United States found that former National Football League (NFL) players had higher incidences of early onset dementia. The link between later cognitive problems and multiple-concussions was inconclusive. However, genetics and sub-concussive injuries may play a part in the onset of cerebral problems.  In November 2013 the British Rugby Football Union set up a working group to examine the link between multiple concussions and dementia to further investigate the issue.

Motorbike Racing

The Isle of Man TT race has claimed 240 lives in its 106 history.  It is without a doubt the most dangerous race on the planet.

Motorbike racing is a very injury prone sport, because let’s face it, if you hit the ground at 200mph the chances of you receiving a serious injury is high and there is very little you can do to prevent it.  However, many participants say the extreme danger is just part of the thrill.


This may surprise you but cycling is one the most dangerous sports you can participate in.  Each year thousands of cyclists are injured on British roads and in 2012 over one hundred cyclists lost their lives.  You can read about how cyclists can stay safe on the road here.

Cave Diving

Officially the most dangerous sport in the world cave diving is considered so risky that many articles have been written examining the psychological effects of this incredibly dangerous activity.

One of the reasons this sport is so perilous is that even years of experience can count for nothing if you find yourself in difficulties.  In dark, enclosed spaces a person’s vulnerability to panic, anxiety and disorientation is amplified to an extreme degree and it becomes very easy to make disastrous mistakes. There is no light, limited oxygen and your exit route can be cut off in an instant.  This is not a sport for the faint of heart.

If you have been involved in a sporting injury, you may be able to make a claim. To take the first step, call Injury Lawyers 4U on 0800 221 8888 today, or fill in this form to arrange a call-back.

Protecting Your Child from Defective Products

One aspect of impending parenthood people look forward to the most is shopping for nursery furniture, buggies and baby clothes. With so many wonderful products and gorgeous attire available, it is easy get carried away with the aesthetics and forget to pay attention to the safety elements of the products you are purchasing. Babies and young children are extremely vulnerable to defective products, and unfortunately, there have been numerous incidents of serious injury and even death due to faulty merchandise.

So how can a new parent ensure the products they purchase for their precious child are safe? Are there certain things you should look out for when deciding what type of product to purchase?

This article will focus on four products; cots, changing tables, high chairs and pushchairs, examining how parents and caregivers can best ensure the safety of what they buy.


When it comes to where you place your baby to sleep, product safety is of paramount importance and the standards should not be compromised. In the United Kingdom, the cot you purchase should meet British Safety Standard BSEN716.

In the United States more children die every year in accidents involving cots than any other nursery product. In July 2009, a six month old baby boy in Fife, Scotland died when he became trapped between the mattress and the side of his cot. The inquiry into his death found the cot he was sleeping in “had a defect which rendered it unsafe” (as stated in the report). The manufacturer subsequently issued a safety device for the cot.

According to the European Child Safety Alliance: Child Product Safety Guide, when purchasing a cot you should ensure that:

• The spacing of the slats is no more than 6cm in width so a baby’s head cannot become trapped between the bars.
• The cot is less than ten years old, and is not broken or modified in any way.
• The gap between the edge of the mattress and cot bars is no more than two fingers’ width wide.
• If the cot is second-hand, it should not have a ‘drop-down’ type mechanism as these have been found to be unsafe.

Changing Tables

A moment’s inattention can result in a baby falling off a changing table. If you decide to purchase a changing table make sure it has a wide surface to lay your baby on when changing them, and a safety strap to secure your infant and prevent him or her from rolling off the table.

High Chairs

Study findings released in December 2013 showed that in the United States there had been a 22% increase in the number of injuries involving children under three years and high chairs between 2003 through to 2010. Each year, 9,400 American children are injured from falling out of a high chair, with head trauma being the most common type of injury sustained.

Most injuries from high chairs are caused by falls; therefore, it is important to pay attention to the safety strap that secures your child in the seat when purchasing the product. Ensure that:

• The waist belt has a buckle that cannot be fastened unless the crotch strap is in place.
• The base of the high chair is wide and heavy for stability. You want to ensure that your baby or toddler cannot tip the high chair over if they start to rock backwards and forwards.
• There is a post in between the child’s legs which will prevent them slipping out through the bottom of the high chair.

The high chair you purchase should conform to British Safety Standard BS EN 14988.


In 2009 Maclaren recalled a million pushchairs in the United States after reports that children had their fingers amputated by the pushchair folding mechanism. The company did not recall any pushchairs in the United Kingdom; however, they did make hinge covers available on request.

When purchasing a pushchair for your child, ensure that:

• It has a five-point harness. You may need to purchase this separately if buying a second-hand, older pushchair.
• The harness fits your infant or child snugly, and is made of good quality, strong material.
• The brake is effective and locks the wheels.

The British safety standard you are looking for when purchasing a pushchair is BS EN 1888.

In summary, checking products for possible defects, ensuring they meet British Safety Standards, and following the manufacturer’s instructions when assembling furniture can protect your child from receiving injuries from merchandise.