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.

Living with Industrial Deafness

The ability to hear sounds and share them with others is something most of us take for granted. However, in 2011 there were more than 10 million people with hearing loss in the UK and this is expected to grow to 14.5 million in 2031.

The biggest cause of hearing loss is old age.  By the age of 80 the majority of people will experience significant loss of hearing.  However, hearing loss often develops from being exposed to loud working environments over a long period of time.  This is often referred to as industrial deafness.  And it is not just manufacturing workers who are at risk. In findings released in May this year, professional musicians were found to be four times more likely to suffer hearing loss and 57% more likely to develop tinnitus than the general public.

Duty of employers

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires that employers either eliminate workplace noise at the source, or where this is not reasonably practical, reduce noise to as low a level as possible.  However, many employees still suffer hearing loss when exposed to a continuous level of noise over a long period of time.

Living with the problem

So what is it like to live in a world that is partially or completely silent?  “It has definitely affected my social life”, explains former Senior Constable Mike Stephens, who suffers from partial hearing loss after participating in firearms training with the police force.  “I don’t like going out much anymore because I can hear next to nothing when I am in a crowd of people, it makes it impossible to try and hold a conversation”.

Partial loss of hearing can affect people physically, mentally, emotionally and socially and it can lead to feelings of isolation, depression and inadequacy.  Some examples of the challenges hearing loss can bring include:

• Not hearing someone talking to you, especially if your back is turned to the person speaking
• Feeling patronised when people talk loudly or slowly
• Difficulty understanding people on the telephone
• Difficulty finding employment, or having to accept positions below an individual’s level of expertise

In order to manage hearing loss and prevent further damage, prompt diagnosis is necessary, but unfortunately, the average adult delays seeking medical help for hearing loss for five to seven years.

Delaying treatment

Delays in seeking treatment are mostly caused by an individual’s denial into how their loss of hearing is affecting their day to day life.

A common treatment for managing hearing loss is having a hearing aid fitted.  Many people are reluctant to acquire hearing aids because they feel embarrassed.  As hearing aids are visible to others, often people feel that they will be treated differently, so they continue to ‘soldier on’ and manage their life around their disability.

Fact: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global needs

Support for the Hearing Impaired

Where can a person who struggles with hearing loss go for support?  There are many organisations available including:

•  Action on Hearing Loss
•  British Tinnitus Association
•  National Association of Deafened People

The first step to finding the right support for you is to talk to your health professional.

If you have suffered complete or partial hearing loss and you believe it was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation – for more information see our loss of hearing 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 Most Dangerous Jobs in the UK

Most of us take for granted that when we leave for work in the morning we will return safely that night. We assume our workplace is safe and we will be free from harm. And thankfully, most of the time this is the case. However, according to statistics from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), 178 people never returned home from work in 2012/13 and a further 78,000 employees were injured. Furthermore, workplace injury and ill-health cost around £13.8 billion in 2010/11.

The industries responsible for the most accidents and injuries are:

• Farming
• Construction
• Manufacturing

So why are these three industries responsible for so many workplace injuries, and what is being done to make each industry safer for workers?


More accidents happen per head of the working population in the agricultural sector than any other industry. Just over 1 in 100 workers (both employees and self-employed) work in agriculture but the industry is responsible for 1 in 5 work-related deaths.

Many injuries in the farming sector go unreported, so it is difficult to gain an accurate picture of how the trauma rates compare over a number of years, however, there has been very little change in the health and safety statistics since the mid-1990s.

The common denominator of these three risky industries is that they all involve large, heavy machinery. However, a farmer also has to deal with unpredictable livestock, dust, vehicles, chemicals, heights, bad weather and strenuous, repetitive work.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the HSE are making considerable efforts to try and raise awareness within the farming industry of health and safety best practices. The NFU states that it regularly meets with its members to discuss simple safety strategies such as telling someone your plans for the day, following safe stopping procedures in vehicles, and not cutting corners when working in situations involving heights, livestock and chemicals.


In 2012/13 the construction industry was responsible for 39 deaths. Although this is a high figure, in the previous five years there had been an average of 53 deaths per year, so there has been a significant improvement in fatality rates. However, added to this figure is around 3,700 new diagnosis of (often fatal) cancer each year which can be attributed to past exposure to asbestos, dust and chemicals. The HSE has more detailed industry statistics.

Between 2004 and 2007 a number of health and safety regulations came into force which has aided the improvement of accident statistics, including:

• Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
• Work at Height Regulations 2005
• Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
• Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (Amendment) 2004
• Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

An Approved Code of Practice was also published in 2007 which offers practical guidance to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
These regulations, combined with a greater awareness of health and safety within the industry, have all led to an improvement in the number of serious injuries and fatalities sustained.


There are approximately 2.8 million workers across a wide range of industries employed in manufacturing within the UK. According to the HSE, accident rates have improved over the past two decades with a third less fatalities in 2012/13 than 20 years ago. Food manufacturing had the highest number of recorded injuries within the sectors.

Because the manufacturing industry is so broad, the injuries sustained can range from chemical burns through to knife related accidents. However, back injury is the most common problem sustained, often due to repetitive work being performed in awkward positions and heavy lifting. The HSE and the industry itself produce many publications and offer training on how to prevent back injury when working. You can read more about recovering from a back injury here.

Changes in Asbestos-Related Cancer Compensation

From April, families of the victims of Mesothelioma who are unable to trace a liable employer will be able to apply for compensation, worth on average £123,000 under the Mesothelioma Act 2014.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common type is Pleural Mesothelioma, affecting around 90% of suffers. Pleural Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelial cells, which are the cells that make up the membrane (lining) that covers the outer surface of the lungs.

A further 10% of victims are diagnosed with Peritoneum Mesothelioma which affects the peritoneum (the lining of the lower digestive tract). Most patients diagnosed with Mesothelioma are terminal and die within three years. One of the reasons for the low recovery rate is the person is usually in the advanced stages of the disease when it is discovered.

Around 2000 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma cancer every year and this number is set to increase over the next 30 years.

The law

At present, victims of Mesothelioma cancer are entitled to state benefits and can pursue a claim against the employers who negligently exposed them to asbestos. However, this particular type of cancer can take between 40 to 60 years to develop after the initial exposure to the substance. Therefore, injustice often occurs because the employer has gone out of business or has died. If this is the case victims can claim compensation from the insurance companies who provided the employer’s liability insurance. However, the insurance company has often proved difficult to trace due to lost or incomplete records.

The change in law will enable compensation to be claimed when this is the case.

Claiming compensation

To qualify for compensation applicants must show all of the following:

• They were diagnosed on or after 25th July 2012
• They are unable to trace former employers and/or that employers’ insurers
• Their former employer negligently exposed them to asbestos
• They have not already received compensation

It is important to note that this is a fund available only after all other efforts to trace former employers and their insurers have been exhausted. Payments under the Act will be on average only 80% of what is normally awarded by the courts when a personal injury claim is successful.

If you have any questions about this new award please contact one of our team who can advise you.

Revealed: The 5 Most Common Accidents In The Workplace

Accidents happen from time to time, and whilst some are completely unlucky others could have been prevented.

Individuals working in different industries are faced with different hazards and potential dangers, for example a chef is more likely to suffer a burn than somebody working in an office.

Often accidents in the workplace can be avoided as employers can take various measures to make sure the working environment is safe for their employees. Employers have a duty to make sure their employees are safe at work. If they are not, and an accident occurs, it can cost them thousands of pounds to put right.

Some injuries are common, such as trips and electrical accidents, whereas less common workplace injuries and illnesses include deafness and asthma. But what are the most frequent accidents arising in the workplace today?

Slips, trips and falls

Falling over in general accounts for a large number of workplace injuries. Whether an employee slips from a wet floor or trips from debris or rubble on the floor, falling over can lead to broken bones, injured back problems and head injuries.

The majority of slips, trips and falls can be avoided, which is why employees need to make sure they notify their employer on any potential hazards in order to prevent others suffering an injury.

Manual work accidents

Manual work, such as that in the agricultural industry typically involves lots of pulling, heaving lifting, carrying, pushing and moving various tools and equipment. Manual work can lead to obvious injuries such as back issues because of the strain put on muscles and the spine through heavy lifting.

However, heart problems can also occur from such work. Broken limbs and muscle injuries are also common from manual work accidents. Often people are carrying equipment that is too heavy or, rather than using lifting aides, choosing to move tools and other things unassisted.

Therefore, workers need to make sure they inform an employer if they feel any task is too strenuous or likely to cause an injury.


Many people are burnt at work from various hazardous substances. Often these substances have not been marked, secured or there are naked flames.

These accidents can be avoided by having warning stickers and signs on dangerous substances. Protective clothing should also be worn in environments with potentially harmful materials.

Vehicle collisions

People that work with motor vehicles are often involved in accidents. This can be caused by the driver being distracted from text messages or phone calls, eating and reading. Therefore, all employees should be warned of the dangers of distracting activities, which are responsible for more than half of accidents involved with motor vehicles.

Repetitive motion injury

Individuals that have to perform the exact same movements continuously over and over again are likely to suffer from repetitive motion injuries. These can arise from typing or by working in an awkward position.

Employees working in difficult or repetitive positions should be encouraged to adopt a better posture which can be enhanced with special equipment and ergonomic chairs.

If you have suffered a work related injury then you should contact InjuryLawyers4u immediately and find out if they can earn you work accident compensation.