New Legislation On Agricultural Health & Safety

In UK agriculture, one worker dies every week on average according to the HSE. Farm work can present a myriad of risks; minor, serious and fatal in a normal day. New legislation aims to curve that statistic as new tough penalties for breaches could encourage a safer environment.
 

A Dangerous Profession

Last month we looked at which industry in the UK was the most dangerous from a personal injury perspective. We determined that due to the heavy machinery and tools used, matched with the working environment, that farming is indeed Britain’s most dangerous workplace.

Agricultural work on average sees more serious injuries each year than construction and manufacturing. This is a result of tasks involving a variety of machinery with the ability to cut, shred and maim individuals coming into contact with them. It is also unfortunately an “accepted” part of the farming industry that injury and death do occur at regular intervals during any calendar year.

Farming is the leading cause of workplace deaths each year

New Legislation

February 2017 will see the introduction of new penalties that heavily affect farming, particularly larger farms with numerous employees. From February, corporate manslaughter and breaching other health and safety offences will result in heavy fines or imprisonment.

According to the official publication released by the HSE, offences can see fines scaling from £50 all the way up to £10 million being handed out, depending on how many people were hurt, what the incident involved and how much damage was done. Sincere Law Partner Lucie Illingworth spoke on the tougher stance on agricultural health and safety:

“It isn’t permissible for agricultural bosses to “accept” that serious injury and death is just a part of working farms. Those that add to the statistics are humans with families. They deserve protection. The legislation should help stimulate greater protection and eliminate that notion. Employee safety is above all else in any industry”

Serious farming injury in the UK

Challenge the Norms

Sincere Law’s solicitors have dealt previously with both the serious injury of agricultural workers and the claiming of compensation following fatalities on behalf of their families. Both situations require immense work and empathy for those involved. It can be a distressing time for all involved, not just the person involved in the incident.

As a law firm that supports the victims of serious injury with their recovery, we welcome any legislative change as an effort to clamp down on negligent procedures employers may have risked assigning employees to in the past. From witnessing the effects of serious injury on agricultural workers first hand, we would like to see the frequency of these impactful injuries fall dramatically.

 

New Portable Ultrasound Scanners Could Save Lives

Undiagnosed bleeding from brain injuries can prove fatal. This is particularly noteworthy in warzones as bleeding internally in the head isn’t easily identifiable. Thanks to new developments in ultra sound technology however, there could be a path to early diagnosis.

Conventional Scanning

The problem with existing ultrasound scanners is that they produce a 2D model. This is most commonly used for baby scan images. Ultrasound works by projecting sound onto the human body and reading the bounce back, putting an image to the sound waves.

Other alternatives for better picture quality include CT or MRI scanners. In cases of emergency, where treatment needs to be quick, including as before, on a battlefield, then these devices become unfeasible. CT and MRI scanners are normally bulky and in some cases are so big they require a dedicated transport to house them.

How conventional ultrasound works

 

The new ultrasound scanners are a portable version the size of a laptop, able to create a 3D image of the brain and instantly send the data via the internet to a specialist. It allows remote diagnosis and a quick way of identifying bleeding. It also means that if an expert is not present at the scene, there is always one available online to look at the scans.

 

Long Term Gain

With the ability to quickly diagnose bleeding in the brain, there is the possibility to prevent haemorrhages. In remote locations without an expert who can spot the bleeding on scans this can be the difference between receiving the correct treatment fast and long term brain damage.

This is also beneficial for patients coming into A&E after suffering a stroke. If bleeding is not spotted early and is left untreated it can lead to further damage when the patient would preferably require rushing to A&E. Bleeding in the brain is not always recognizable without due training and experience; in the past patients may not have been identified as suffering this and risked long term damage or even death if untreated.

new portable ultrasound designed to assist with finding brain bleeding injuries being tested

Sincere Law Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris Walker saw the potential in the scanners and was very pleased to see the ongoing development reach testing. Of the scanners he said:

“Undiagnosed bleeding inside a brain can devastate a person in the long term and so having the ability to clearly identify this in a patient, even when a specialist doctor isn’t on hand at the scene, is a big step towards reducing catastrophic brain injuries. We hope to see continual testing and eventual rollout of these devices in our armed forces and A&E too”.

 

Saving Lives

There is no doubt that the ability to quickly scan a brain for internal bleeding and send the results remotely can save lives going forward. The biggest question is how quickly can the portable scanners be thoroughly tested and rolled out for general use? Unfortunately at this point there is no set timeline but the testing is a large step towards that goal.

In the majority of brain injury cases taken by Sincere Law relating to internal bleeding, the longer a patient is left to be diagnosed; whether that is simply waiting at a hospital or waiting for a specialist to identify the symptoms; the more damaging the long term effects. A brain injury also affects the family of a victim just as much. They often involve complications including affected motor functions, restricted learning capacity or general brain functionality problems.

Steps towards reducing the amount prolonged brain bleeding sufferers are being made every day. In time we hope that those operating in our armed forces and those in need of quick assistance in our hospitals have access to the new ultrasound scanners.

 

New technology to tackle head injuries in sport

A brand new device labelled the “Q-Collar” has been designed and tested using two studies in the United States. The device, which is placed inside a sports helmet, aims to reduce concussion injuries by manipulating blood flow to the brain.

 

Energy absorption

The Q-Collar works very simply by being placed inside a helmet allowing it to gently press on the jugular vein of an athlete. The pressure on the vein then allows a slow outflow of blood, keeping blood volume in the brain. When involved in a contact sport, your brain can be at risk to aggravated injuries from knocks to the head. The collar is designed so the higher blood volume in the brain can pad out and protect it during sport.

The tests carried out in America involved two heavy contact sports that required helmets (American football and hockey). The studies, which took place in Cincinnati, measured the flow of blood and activity of both athletes that wore the collar (half), and athletes that didn’t. The results indicated that those athletes who took part without the collar suffered a “disruption of their microstructure and functional performance of the brain”.

Serious Injury prevention in sports with new v collar

English Applications

The Q collar may well have future applications in more than the sports tested if further research shows the device to greatly assist with the prevention of injury. While American football and hockey are considered niche sports in the UK, other more popular sports that require a helmet may benefit from widespread use. Other applications which could see the Q collar used include:

  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Motorsports
  • Bobsledding
  • Equestrian Sports
  • Baseball
  • Extreme Sports
  • Skiing

Sincere Law’s Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris Walker has praised the research as an “exciting development” in the protection of athletes. “There have been positive advances in dealing with sports related head injuries in the past few years. It’s vitally important we protect everyone from brain injury as the long term effects can be devastating; particularly so for those who aren’t backed by guaranteed contracts and access to the best therapy.”

v collar designed to prevent serious injury in sport

As solicitors who specialise in serious and catastrophic injury, Sincere Law has helped victims of severe head injury in sport in the past and know that the road to recovery can be a hard one, not just for the victim themselves, but for their families as well.

Given the limited access to therapy that amateur sportsmen and sportswomen have, when compared to the professionals, the introduction of technology, such as the Q Collar, could go a long way to help prevent serious head injuries to competitors.

 

Scottish MP challenges medical negligence process following stillborn ordeal

SNP member and representative for North Ayrshire and Arran Patricia Gibson MP has called for a change to the medical negligence process following her horrific ordeal in which she gave birth to a stillborn child and almost dying herself.

Due date heartache

Back in 2009, Ms Gibson received the fantastic news that she was expecting her first child. Patricia and her husband Kenneth (MP for Cunninghame North) had both been desperate to have a child which resulted in them opting for IVF treatment. The pregnancy went smoothly right up to her due date, which was when she felt ill.

On her due date she attended hospital and informed the staff she was feeling ill but was told to go home as she had “nothing wrong with her”. She remained and fought her corner until finally the staff agreed to let her stay and was given morphine. No doctor came near her however until the following morning where she was informed her baby had died.

An emergency caesarean section took place, but, after an arduous process where inducing the baby became difficult, her liver ruptured. She lost a lot of blood and thought she was close to death as doctors rushed to help. It was eventually discovered she had pre-eclampsia, which should have been picked up earlier and as a result, she should never have been given morphine.

 

Listening to patients

While Patricia’s nightmare is of course a horrific experience to go through, the ordeal has given her the goal of trying to promote a new culture within UK healthcare. She has three major objectives:

  • “Given that 45 per cent of women who have had stillborns were sent home when they expressed concerns, I want to bed into our culture a more collaborative system where people’s concerns are listened to.”
  • “When mistakes are made, health boards or health trusts should not be investigating themselves. An independent body must be brought in to investigate full-term stillbirths and there needs to be a time limit.”
  • When babies are stillborn at full-term, coroners should become involved as they would be able to pinpoint causes of death and how lessons can be learned.

Ms Gibson’s case was a long and complex affair. Two years after the death of her baby she had still received no apology and was forced to seek legal advice. Two commissioned reports later, and following a lengthy conversation between her representatives and the NHS, she was advised to settle for a small sum as taking her claim higher could have bankrupted her. Ms Gibson’s campaign has turned many heads with her simple mantra that “women know their own bodies, if there is an issue, mum will know”. She has spoken at length regarding the issues surrounding stillbirths and the UK health system, continuing to fly the flag for mothers suffering as a result of not being listened to.

Sincere Law’s Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris Walker weighed in on the issue, stating:

“When it comes to serious injury, it is not just all broken bones and damaged muscles. A large aspect of everything we do is with the mental anguish dealt from incidents such as this. Ms Gibson has taken the brave step to tell her story and to go over two years without an apology is not acceptable. Her case has been prolonged much longer than necessary, but the fact she was not seen by any doctor until she was informed of her child’s death is the biggest injustice. We fully support Ms Gibson’s campaign and hope to see more hospitals listening to mothers when they feel there could be a problem.”

Scottish MP changes to medical negligence procedure

Unfortunately, UK mothers experience on average 3,600 accounts of stillbirth each year with research suggesting that up to half of them could be avoided with the use of scans and more attention to care. Hopefully with more support, Ms Gibson’s campaign can be a turning point in reducing those statistics. To support her campaign you can find her on her official Twitter & Facebook feeds.

Ryman league team & Northern Rail team up to educate about trespassing

A North London based Ryman league football side, Cheshunt FC, have teamed up with Network Rail to teach young people about the danger of trespassing on railway lines.

 

Nationwide programme

Alongside Cheshunt and Network Rail, a Manchester based company (PDF Sports LTD) have joined to help roll the scheme out to 10 schools in close proximity to the lines that run in the Cheshunt area. They have also made the programme accessible to Year 5 students across the country by incorporating the message into a sporting environment. The programme consists of using games and activities outside to help remember the risks associated with the railway.

Spokesman for the campaign on behalf of Cheshunt FC, Chairman Dean Williamson said “The railway is an extremely dangerous environment and it simply isn’t worth risking your life trying to save a few seconds misusing a level crossing”. Joining Mr Williamson was Tackling Track Safety Project Director, Philip Fitton, who added “The TTSP is a fantastic project and so far this year over 50,000 young people nationally have been educated about the dangers of the Railway in a fun and engaging environment”.

Originally set up in November 2015 by footballing legend Paul Scholes, Tackling Track Safety aims to educate “at least 100,000 people about rail safety” by the end of 2016.

(Paul Scholes set up Tackling Track Safety in 2015)

Responsible parenting

With the summer on its way and many children able to enjoy the holidays, we move into a period where knowing the whereabouts of your children becomes vitally important. Helping educate children into appreciating how serious an injury caused on the railway can be is a step in the right direction towards reducing accident and fatality statistics.

Sincere Law Catastrophic Injury Partner, Chris Walker, supports the project, stating “safety around the railway is a big issue for young people. In the summer we often receive calls from individuals who have experienced incidents around trains and unfortunately for those whose child has trespassed onto the railway it makes it very difficult to assist. We help clients each year who have been injured on trains by negligent actions but one thing we must completely eradicate is the threat to children’s lives posed by missing education on how fatal a decision to trespass can be. We fully support the campaign and hope that the Tackling Track Safety scheme can achieve their objective of educating 100,000 people by the end of this year.”

 

What can you do?

As a parent you can assist greatly by ensuring your child knows that trespassing onto the railway can be life threatening. This is most important to those living near railway lines, as easy access can often tempt children to become curious. While Sincere Law can do a lot for those that suffer serious injury as a direct result of negligent actions by railway staff or poor safety standards, being injured by a train as a result of unlawfully trespassing removes a person’s chance of making an injury claim.

New education for children on rail safety launched

Agriculture – Britain’s riskiest profession?

Farming has always been a staple of the British economy. The land holds promise for rearing animals and crops and seemingly will always have a place in British life. It does however often go unreported that this historic job does hold a place as the UK’s most dangerous profession statistically.

Brits and farming

The agriculture industry in the UK has always been a popular source of economic prosperity. With 75% of the UK’s landmass used for farming, it helps supply over two thirds of the nation’s food, from meat and poultry, to fruit and veg. Being an island nation, farming has been a failsafe industry since the dawn of civilisation, allowing us to stay supplied during both World Wars and giving the UK a strong trade out into the world.

From the early days of horse drawn ploughs and farm hands sowing crops; cultivating the land by hand, there has always been plenty of labour available in farming.

Revolution & change

With the industrial revolution adding new machinery and methods of farming, came greater risk of serious injury in the daily life of a farm worker. Farming has always seen incidents of serious injury, including workers becoming entrapped in machinery, being mauled by animals or falling from height working on the buildings.

According to current statistics, farming is still at the top of the tree for injuries and fatalities in the UK workplace. With heavy machinery including a variety of tractors, industrial size machines for collecting and processing crops and the fact that the overall amount of livestock kept rising, it is no surprise that farming does still carry risks of serious injury (and even fatalities).

Farming has the highest rate of serious injury incidents in the UK

Farming safely & what next?

With so many risks of injury, it is imperative anybody involved in farming not only has adequate protection in the form of PPE and working tested equipment, but also to be properly educated on having a safe working environment. This is exactly what one company in Oxfordshire has done by offering training and education for all areas of farm work. It is often overlooked by those that work in the more labour intensive side of farming, but proper education is one step to avoiding unnecessary incidents.

Sincere Law has experienced a myriad of farming related injuries arising from the provision of poor education and inadequate PPE. The cost of an accident working on a farm can far outweigh that of being injured in many other professions, construction and manufacturing included.

With life changing injuries seen including amputations, loss of hearing, loss of sight, 3rd degree burns and broken bones, Sincere Law Partner, Lucie Illingworth, actively welcomes the new resources and challenges other companies to provide the same. Lucie said of the new courses:

“It often goes unnoticed just how badly an injury caused working in agriculture can change a person’s life. Any claims we deal with in this sector go far beyond simply providing a means of compensation. The rebuilding process can take months and years to come close to making a recovery (if at all). The more protection provided for farmers, the fewer lives we are likely to see affected by injuries at work. I’d like to see many more of these initiatives launched to protect UK agricultural workers”.

Will the enhanced education have an effect on the rate of serious injury and fatalities in UK farming? Only time will tell. Until we know for sure, farming is likely to retain its place as one of the UK’s most dangerous jobs.

Sign Your Life Away – Do Waivers Stop You From Claiming?

When you take part in any activity that could pose a physical risk, like a sporting competition or events such as the newly popular extreme assault courses, you will most probably sign a waiver. These waivers record that you accept that there is a risk of you being injured while taking part. But does that absolve all blame from the organiser?

Spartan races are fast becoming one of the mot popular extreme race events in the world

Event Insurance

All event organisers, including sports and team building obstacle race holders, will be required to have insurance and be expected to have made precautions for any accidents that could happen. This usually includes arranging for first aiders to be present and ensuring that there is suitable access for emergency services, as well as ensuring the venue is appropriate and that participants are prepared and aware of any risks. This insurance is necessary as,, although participants suffering minor scrapes, bruises or even minor breaks are covered under the waiver; negligence of any form is not and should it occur, it would leave the event organiser liable.

The now worldwide giant, Tough Mudder, has come under criticism for injuries caused since it’s inception in 2010. With runners electrocuted by 10,000 volt cables and sustaining some brutal punishment over the courses, some have suggested that a lack of care has been taken with the obstacle design. With some events seeing deaths, paralysis and major injuries in recent years, the question of negligence has lingered for some time.

The same idea of waivers not covering negligent actions applies to sports too. Many sports have governing bodies which issue insurance to members covering injury during training sessions and competition; with additional insurance available for instructors. However, liability waivers do not cover acts of negligence on behalf of coaches, referees or other participants. Should another competitor intentionally injure you or a referee fails to act within their duty of care to all participants, then those actions fall outside of a waiver and give a person the right to claim compensation.

Serious injury during sports or tough mudders

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Waiver Legality

A waiver is designed to fulfil the legal requirement that the participant in an activity is aware of the potential risk and is still willing to participate. Although some waivers may mention complete absolution from liability, this isn’t actually a true statement.

Legally if a company, organiser or governing body of an event have done all within their power to oversee the safety of participants, then injury cannot bring forth a personal injury claim. However, if those same authorities have in fact been negligent in their preparation and allowed for slips in safety procedures, then a claim can be made.

Sincere Law has represented both athletes and race participants in the past for these situations. The challenge for the solicitor of an injured individual is to prove the accident was the fault of negligence.

 

Proving Fault

While not an easy process, it can be determined,  with some investigation by a solicitor, as to whether the waiver signed covers the accident or not. Looking into previous injuries using the apparatus, the health and wellbeing of the person involved and the situation surrounding the incident all come into play.

While we would never discourage anybody from participating in a sport that has injury risks or completing an obstacle race with risky sections, Sincere Law would always advise being in the best possible condition to safely compete/complete a course and also be aware of the proper rules and procedures for participation.

With some research suggesting an average of 1.72 people being taken to hospital per 1,000 entrants for extreme obstacle races, you need to be sure you can safely complete them as well as having fun doing so.

tough mudder serious injury claims

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

If you have been involved in a sporting event or an obstacle race and have suffered a serious injury, then do not hesitate to get in touch with Sincere Law. We operate on a No Win No Fee basis and, after an initial no hassle call, we can ascertain whether you have a potential claim. We also offer a £250 recommend a friend scheme in which you can earn £250 for recommending Sincere Law to a friend. Our lines are open from 9am until 8pm daily so get in touch today!