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The Importance of Risk Assessments

Monday, 13 June 2011

The claimant was participating in a 'fun day' organised by his employer, the MOD. He watched colleagues enter an inflatable pool owned by Corporate Leisure, head first. On taking his turn however, the Claimant hit his head and broke his neck. Among the allegations were breaches of regulations 3 and 10 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, that there was a failure to carry out suitable risk assessment.

Lord Justice Aitkins, on appeal, agreed with Lady Justice Smith that the trial judge's 'conclusion that the risk of spinal injury was small and was therefore acceptable was not sound and cannot stand'. The failure to carry out a suitable risk assessment although not the direct cause of injury, could be indirectly causative.

The above case would have led to a report being made under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). However, if the Regulations are amended as proposed by Lord Young, to cover injuries that incapacitate employees for 7 consecutive days as opposed to 3 days, it is possible that only the extremely serious injuries will be reported and investigated. Also, where a conscientious employee manages to return to work before the end of the 7 day period, notwithstanding a serious injury, such may not be recorded and repeat offenders may escape the appropriate scrutiny that RIDDOR currently provides for.