Fatal workplace injury figures improve, injuries continue

Industry news roundup: week ended 28 Oct 2013:

The Health and Safety Executive might have said that the number of fatal instances of personal injury at work may be on the decline, but injuries still happen.

So here’s the good news: there were 18 per cent fewer fatalities in the UK during the 2011-2012 year when held up against the national five-year average. When you get down to brass tacks, the figure stood at 148 Brits that tragically lost their lives at work, still high but a far cry from the average of 181. That’s 33 fewer lives that were cut short last year, and I’m very gratified to learn about that particular statistic this week!

While it seems on the face of it that work conditions for Brits are getting relatively safer, there are still plenty of injuries that occur at work that don’t result in fatalities. In fact, one particularly noteworthy work accident claim was made recently after a trainee prison guard at Featherstone jail was left with long-lasting injuries after a ‘control and restraint’ technique went awry.

The 35 year old man – whose name has not been made known to the public – sustained enough damage to his right wrist that surgical correction was deemed necessary by his doctors. Even with the surgical procedure, the poor man still has marked difficulties in undertaking everyday tasks.

Is it just me or does it seem like every time we take two steps forward when it comes to making the British workplace safer, we take one step backwards? I mean don’t get me wrong – I’m absolutely thrilled to discover that the fatality rate has dropped by such a significant margin – but what in the world is going on in these training exercises that a trainee ends up injured so severely that he has permanent nerve damage to his wrist? Is this the kinds of standard operating procedure that correctional facilities in the UK have adopted?

I’m not going to sit here and say that we should be treating those convicted of offences with gentleness, but if a prison trainee was injured this badly – ostensibly in a situation where his instructors were simply trying to demonstrate a technique for restraining unruly inmates without causing permanent harm – can you imagine what kind of things are going on behind closed doors? Honestly it makes me a bit sick to think about.

Have we become a nation of horrid little crybabies?

Industry news roundup: week ended 21 Oct 2013:

Is it just me or does it seem like people don’t even hesitate to bring an accident claim for even the most minor of injuries?

I mean, you read about it every day: so-and-so gets thousands or even millions in personal injury compensation because they slipped on some pavement and skinned their knees. I’m not even making this up, either – in fact just this week a new report emerged how Derbyshire County Council has paid out more than £400,000 in damages since 2010.

It’s not just a few hundred quid here and there either – there are some serious compensation awards being tossed about. In fact one pupil earned a £40,000 payout after he suffered injuries on a trip with his secondary school. There were plenty of other big-ticket responses as well, such as the £25,000 reward one teen was given after being the victim of bullying or the £23,710 another teen earned after he was struck with a foreign object.

Of course that’s not even the worst part. If we turn our gaze away from Derbyshire and instead turn our attention to North Somerset, we quickly learn that the last five years have seen more than £3 million worth of compensation claims, with the local authority paying out on more than half of them.

So what kind of terrible injuries are costing North Somerset Council so much dosh? Well how about a loose kerb causing hysterectomy stitches to burst? If that’s a bit too graphic for you, apparently one of the local authority’s big problems happened to be a pair of trousers that had been damaged by some spilled bleach.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the world has officially gone mad. I know that I’m supposed to say that there’s no such thing as the so-called ‘compensation culture,’ but it seems rather difficult to say that with a straight face when some bleach-spilled trousers and other spurious personal injury claims are costing one local authority millions of pounds. I’m not saying that accident’s don’t happen, mind you – they do, and sometimes they can be rather injurious – but for pity’s sake, just go down and buy yourself a new pair of trousers if you spill some bleach on them! You don’t need to try to bilk your local council out of thousands of pounds on such a frivolous and completely spurious venture.

Whiplash claim fraudsters caught on camera

Industry news roundup: week ended 14 Oct 2013:

In the world of accident claims, whiplash accounts for quite a bit of fraud – but at least two scams were caught cold thanks to photographic evidence this week!

First up is the story of how one driver collided with a lorry in what turned out to be a complete scam. The lorry, which had luckily been fitted with a video recorder just for such an eventuality, bore witness that the lorry driver was not at fault, despite the other driver’s protestations to the contrary – it’s kind of hard to argue that the other bloke was at fault when you career across three lanes of traffic, isn’t it?

I’ll wager that the scammer was in for more than a little bit of a surprise to learn that he had been caught on camera. It makes me giddy to learn that there’s one less fraudulent personal injury compensation claim out there thanks to this technology.

Meanwhile it’s not just at the scene of the accident that digital footage is playing a role in discouraging fraud. Another story that broke this week revealed how a former police officer, someone who was supposedly suffering from a severe case of whiplash, went out and took part in a professional cage fight less than a fortnight after the ‘injury’ took place – and there’s video footage of the fight!

Well too bad for this bloke that prosecutors viewed the footage and determined that there’s no way he could have been suffering from whiplash and also participated in the heavyweight bout. This is pretty much an open-and-shut case of attempted insurance fraud, and now there’s a very good chance that there could be some jail time in this foolish man’s future. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke, if you ask me!

I swear, it’s like these fraudsters are getting less and less intelligent with each passing day. It’s like they’re just not thinking at all besides about the shedloads of cash they’ll supposedly get from making their fraudulent personal injury claims; perhaps they’re so blinded by greed that their basic reasoning skills go on holiday? Then again you have to be rather thick to attempt fraud like this anyhow, so I shouldn’t really be surprised by stories like this now should I? What a pack of idiots.

NHS pays through the nose for medical staff blunders

Industry news roundup: week ended 7 Oct 2013:

Medical negligence is no laughing matter – much as the NHS has learned this week after it’s been ordered to pay out on two major compensation claims.

Birth injuries are often life-changing events, and it was no different for Joseph Rea when he was born seven years ago. Little Joseph suffered severe brain damage while he was being delivered, ultimately resulting in injuries that left him with learning difficulties, mobility problems, and seizures as a result of cerebral palsy. Well, it turns out that the NHS Trust for the hospital more or less debased itself in front of Joseph’s family, offering them £2.4 million in a lump sum personal injury compensation payment and then promising additional annual payments as well – which is good news for Joseph and his family, as the young lad’s physical needs can now be met much more easily.

I don’t know what it is with doctors in the UK, but it seems like they just simply can’t get it right sometimes! In a way it’s most likely not the fault of the doctor, what with hospital work schedules so absolutely horrid, but how many times do avoidable mistakes have to occur before the NHS changes its administrative policies?

Not soon enough, apparently, considering how yet another NHS Trust ended up paying out on a claim for another baby injured in childbirth. This time it was a skull fracture and brain injury during the delivery of Yiqun Zhang that left him with severe disabilities later in life – but now the £12 million value compensation package will see to it that he gets everything he will need in order to live a comfortable life – or as much of one that he can with his injuries.

I can’t even imagine having to face such a terrible fate as a parent. You love your child unconditionally of course, but you’ve got an incredible burden as well for their lifelong care – something that you won’t be able to provide since, well let’s face it – no one lives forever. Round the clock care isn’t cheap by a long shot, you know; my hat goes off and my heart goes out to anyone and everyone in a situation where they have to provide for the special needs of their own child.

Of course we could avoid the whole tragic thing if we could just get the quality of service in NHS hospitals better than something you would find in the bin.