Health and Safety Matters - Story 2

3 minute read | 04 May 2020 12:37:57 BST


Everyone should go home healthy from work, and we can all do the right thing by protecting the health of our colleagues in the workplace.

We spoke to a number of our learners, asking for their personal stories of how health and safety, its training, and the commitment it instils, helped avoid a near-miss and perhaps helped to save their life and the lives of their colleagues. Here’s what they had to say. 

Story 2: Paul Harley, Senior HSE Consultant

A close friend of mine who worked for a large international company suffered life changing injuries whilst at work in a warehouse. There had already been several reports of serious near-miss accidents and minor injuries which had gone unactioned over a period of two years or so. However, there was a noticeable culture of complacency within the company, which had resulted in less risk assessments being used in the workplace.

An accident waiting to happen

On the day of the accident, a visiting driver had arrived to drop off materials to the warehouse. Because no risk assessment had been carried out, there was a significant lack of traffic management routes and a reliance on hi-visibility tabards. As a result, my friend got run over by a 6-tonne Forklift Truck and his left leg was taken off by the brunt of the accident.

Life-changing surgery

He was rushed to a local Hospital for immediate surgery. Within 2 hours of the accident, he was given the choice of having either a full amputation below the knee or reconstructive surgery to rebuild his lower leg. He had to make the decision immediately with no time to think of what the future might hold. My friend chose the reconstructive surgery, and I probably would have chosen the same if I had been given the same shocking news.  

His decision to take the reconstructive surgery has led to a further 8 operations. They've harvested skin from most of his body to rebuild the soft tissue, plus underpinned the bone structure. I cannot describe in words the impact this journey has had on him, his family, and his friends.

The aftermath

I am glad to say that he is now partially recovered., but has been left with large amount of scarring and a slight limp in his left leg.

The company he worked for has now implemented suitable a traffic control measures as well as daily risk assessments to identify hazards to ensure this type of accident does not happen again,.  I do ask myself why must it take an event like this to get a someone to action correct health and safety in the workplace/ Just one risk assessment would have mitigated many years of agony and suffering for my fiend.

My take-away message

Health and safety is everyone’s business - from top to bottom, in any organisation. It doesn't matter how large or small the business is, ALL businesses are made up of people. And people are the most important asset. We ALL have a duty to look after ourselves and everyone else.

Make sure you are skilled in conducting risk assessments and reporting near-misses. These two steps are crucial in stopping accidents happening in the future. ALL managers should ensure that HSE protocol is taken seriously.

Paul Harley CMIOSH

Paul is a Chartered Health and Safety Professional and Trainer with a background in a variety of industries including, Further Education, Construction, Engineering, Manufacturing, Food/Drink and Retail.