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'One of those accidents that happen, basically' - Council reacts after worker breaks leg in fall

'One of those accidents that happen, basically' - Council reacts after worker breaks leg in fall

 

Concerns have been raised over working conditions at a council after an employee broke his leg after slipping on ice.

It has emerged the Newcastle Borough Council worker suffered the injury due to black ice in the last six months.

The incident was raised this week at an audit and standards meeting.

It was revealed the local authority had scored itself the highest possible risk score of nine out of nine in an audit report for 'failure to comply with relevant health and safety legislation'.

In that case the relevant health and safety legislation that was broken was RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 1995).

Speaking at the meeting, councillor Mike Stubbs said: "Was this because we didn't put salt down on a slippery area? Or was it just an accident? If it was the former then it's serious, if it was the latter then it's an accident that needs to be recorded as such.

 

"If these serious things that should be done aren't being done, then who is being made responsible for that?

The way the risk has been identified says we have failed to do something we should have done. Coupled with the fact that it's a nine out of nine risk - actually seems quite bad to me.

"If by scoring it a nine, then we are failing to protect the council staff and the general public then that's horrendous. Is that a training problem?"

Councillor Paul Waring, who is chairman of the audit and standards committee, said: "We have had an incident where we were told not to put salt down as it was making it more dangerous than it was."

 Simon Sowerby, business improvement manager at the council said: "This particular accident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and they determined that safe systems of work were in place. So it's one of those accidents that happen, basically."

Councillor Stubbs replied: "Well, if it's a general accident then we didn't fail. The HSE have told us we didn't fail. So why has it been put under that if it's just an accident?"

Chief Executive Martin Hamilton said: "The likelihood of failure is actually lower than nine, because we do have safe systems in place, risk assessments, and this report shows no risk assessments are overdue. The consequences of a failure are extremely high."

Councillor  Stubbs added: "I don't think that particular accident should have been reported in this particular way, because we're basically saying we are failing, when actually we didn't. I just think it's reported incorrectly."

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