Catastrophic Consequences of failing to follow health & safety policies/procedures
Catastrophic Consequences of failing to follow health & safety policies/procedures.
Responsible organisations have duty carried out risk assessments and introduce policies and procedures for the safety of their employees and others.
The death of a young adult with autism which occurred in Nottingham and was the subject of criminal prosecution of a care worker highlighted emphasised the importance of employees being risk assessments and the necessary for staff to be familiar with them.
The incident involved a local authority care worker who received a prison sentence for being in breach of section 7 of the Health & Safety at Work act 1974 which imposes the following duty on employees.
An employee may commit an offence if he/she contravenes the general duties imposed by Section.7(a) and 7(b) by failing: to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work.
The circumstances: An adult with learning difficulties was taken out by a local authority social services care worker for activities which included water sports. The individual participated in the morning activities but did not want to participate in the afternoon sport.
A care plan was in place to address such issues and the care worker was tasked to simply walk the individual around the lake which took about 45 minutes.
Towards the end of this walk the care worker lost sight of the individual. Dog walkers subsequently found this individual in the lake and he was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.
The Police, the Health and Safety executive, the Local Authority all carried out an investigation to establish the cause of the death and the findings later presented to the Coroners Court.
The Court findings: The coroner who was a Judge initially concentrated on the organisation responsible for organising the event (Nottingham City Council) and demanded copies of the all the risk assessments, Policies/Procedures and the individuals care plan.
The Judge went through these documents in great detail and sort clarification on numerous issues by the LA’s Health and Safety management.
The care worker was then questioned by the Judge who unlike the LA refused to answer all questioned put to her
The Judge subsequently concluded that the Policies and procedures which had been in place on the day could not be faulted and had these been followed the death of this individual would not have occurred.
The judge recommended that the care worker should be brought before the criminal court and face chargers under the Health & Safety at Work Act.
Normally under criminal law a person is deemed to be innocent until proven guilty however this is not the case under Health & Safety legislation under this legislation a person is guilty unless they can prove their innocence.
By going “No Comment” when questioned by the Judge the defendant had failed to demonstrate a defence.
The care worker was subsequently charged under sec: 7 of the Health & Safety at Work Act and sentenced to four months in prison.
The headlines in the Nottingham evening post read: Jailed for failing to care