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Lawyer Calls On Government To ‘Do Everything In Its Power’ To Protect UK Workers

Low Hazard Workplaces (Risk Assessment Exemption) Bill To Be Debated In Commons


A leading workplace injury lawyer has urged the Government to do all it can to keep UK workers safe and help prevent avoidable injuries by continuing to make ‘vital written risk assessments’ compulsory in what are deemed to be low risk work places.

The call comes as a debate takes place in the House of Commons to decide if “low hazard workplaces” – like offices, shops, classrooms and households – should become exempt from producing written risk assessments.

David Urpeth, National Head of Workplace Injuries and Illness at leading law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “Time and time again we help people whose lives have been devastated by accidents and injuries – that are often life changing - which have occurred in what are considered to be low hazard environments.

“Often the most frustrating thing for injured people and their families is that accidents may have been easily prevented if a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been carried out.”

People who have sought help from Irwin Mitchell include office, shop, school and university workers who suffered second hand exposure to deadly asbestos dust leading them to develop terminal cancer (mesothelioma). 

Just this week a Bradford Coroner concluded that former teacher Graham Butterfield died of mesothelioma. Graham had worked as a teacher at both Tong Comprehensive School and Hutton Middle School between1967 and 1996.

Before he died, he explained that workmen at the schools removed asbestos ceiling tiles disturbing the deadly dust. He also added that while at Hutton Middle School he helped with the cabling of computers throughout the school which involved being in the basement and service tunnels exposing him to asbestos lagging dust.

Urpeth continues: “Cases like this demonstrate that things can go badly wrong and result in life changing consequences if risk assessments are not carried out in what are referred to as low hazard workplaces.

He continues: “Reducing the health and safety requirement to void written risk assessments in certain workplaces is likely lead to an increase in numbers of people killed or injured at work which is the last thing that anyone wants to happen.

“I’d urge the Government to consider the wider implications of introducing this legislation to help keep UK workers safe.”

This will be the 2nd reading of the Low Hazard Workplaces (Risk Assessment Exemption) Bill 2010 – 11 and the Self-Employment (Risk Assessment Exemption) Bill 2010 – 11.