Editorial

Editorial: Prevention is better than compensation

Many mishaps – and costly staff injury claims – could be avoided if only everyone took a little more care, writes editor Graham Scott.
Graham Scott

It has become rather fashionable to blame health and safety for many of the nations ills.

Most of us have heard colleagues complain or joke that routine tasks can no longer be completed without first undertaking a cumbersome risk assessment.

For those injured at work, however, its no laughing matter. Some accidents are inevitable, but many mishaps could be avoided, injuries prevented and compensation claims averted if only everyone took a little more care.

Working in the health service probably carries greater risk than most other workplaces, given the environment in which staff have to operate. It can be hard for employers to justify spending money on updating buildings and equipment when there are so many other priorities to address.

Sensible approach

But the cost of dealing with the aftermath of workplace accidents is so considerable that investment in preventing such incidents

It has become rather fashionable to blame ‘health and safety’ for many of the nation’s ills.

Most of us have heard colleagues complain – or joke – that routine tasks can no longer be completed without first undertaking a cumbersome risk assessment.

For those injured at work, however, it’s no laughing matter. Some accidents are inevitable, but many mishaps could be avoided, injuries prevented and compensation claims averted if only everyone took a little more care.

Working in the health service probably carries greater risk than most other workplaces, given the environment in which staff have to operate. It can be hard for employers to justify spending money on updating buildings and equipment when there are so many other priorities to address.

Sensible approach

But the cost of dealing with the aftermath of workplace accidents is so considerable that investment in preventing such incidents and fostering a sensible approach to risk makes good sense, in terms of both human and financial resources.

Figures obtained by Nursing Standard reveal that the NHS in England shelled out £47.5 million in the 2015-16 financial year on settling compensation claims from staff injured at work. If only that money could have been spent on more staff.

As ever, nurses could help solve a problem facing the health service. Giving greater resources and status to occupational health teams would go a long way towards creating safer working environments so that more public money can be spent on providing care, rather than wasted on legal fees.

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