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Health and Safety in High Risk Environments

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Health and Safety in High Risk Environments

Health and safety is the most important thing in any workplace, regardless of the level of risk.

Without a proper health and safety policy in place, including training plans, risk assessments and safety precautions, not only are employers leaving their workers open to injury and harm, they are also leaving themselves unprotected in the eyes of the law.

The law does however recognise that some types of work have have an intrinsic level of risk associated with them, and in some circumstances, it is not reasonably practicable to completely eliminate this risk. This doesn’t mean that employers can neglect to try to reduce that risk altogether, and must still provide adequate training and safe systems of work for employees.

 

Gunshot Injury at Firing Range

One recent case which highlighted this was bought before Newcastle Crown Court in September 2014. A global munitions company, operating in Northumberland, were found guilty of a serious safety breach which led to the permanent disfigurement of one of their employees.

The injured man was working on a gun range test firing ammunition, when an accident occurred which sent a 7kg metal bolt out of the back of the gun and into his leg, shattering the bone. After operations to rebuild his leg, six weeks in hospital and intensive therapy, his injured leg is still 2cm shorter than the other.

The Health and Safety Executive carried out a thorough investigation, and found that the accident occurred because a boresight, which is a device for aiming, had been left in the barrel of the gun, when it should have been removed before it was test-fired. This meant that the gas which should have propelled the round forward, became trapped in the barrel and the pressure led it to backfire. The excessive force of the trapped gas shot the round straight into the man’s leg.

It was discovered that the company was well aware of the hazard associated with not removing the boresight, and had taken steps with other weapons to avoid this type of incident, but in relation to this particular gun they had failed to implement a safe system of work.

The company pleaded guilty in court and were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 in costs after for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

In many situations, failure to ensure health and safety may result in a slip or trip, but in high risk environments such as constructions sites, or in this case, a gun range, the consequences can be fatal. That’s why putting the right precautions in place is essential.

Health and Safety Training

The team at HST Ltd have years of experience providing health and safety training to companies working in a range of different sectors. From specialist courses for specific equipment to general safety courses and tailored risk assessment training, we can help you uphold the highest level of health and safety at your workplace. Simply get in touch to find out more.

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