On 17 July 2016 at the Brackton Centre, part of NHS Oxley’s Foundation Trust, a healthcare assistant and a psychiatric nurse were attacked by a service user with a knife.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the NHS Trust following this incident which highlighted that there was no patient specific risk assessment identifying the risks posed by a patient and the measures required to control those risks prior to admission at the Centre.
Another issue that was identified by the HSE was that of the use of knives. The HSE found that staff members were entering and exiting the kitchen area several times whilst knives were in use and no instructions or control measures were put in place regarding them.
Due to the impact of the two employees that were stabbed, but also other employees that witness the incident, the NHS Trust was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,000.00 after pleading guilty to breaching section 2 sub section 1 and section 3 sub section 1 of the Health and Safety At Work Act.
Although this case concerned an NHS Trust, the comments of the Judge in sentencing are applicable to many other types of business. In particular, this is relevant for those employers that may have employees engaged as a lone worker. There are always a number of risks involved when employing staff and a risk assessment should be carried out at the suitable time to identify any risks that may be present. A lone working policy is essential should employers find themselves in circumstances that employees may not have other colleagues/managers around them when carrying out their duties as an employee.
It is important for all employers to determine the level of safety of operations by way of completing a suitable risk assessment for the action that is required by the employee. This not only allows for consistent record keeping, but also can be used as an effective training tool for the employees to recognise the available risks and the conduct of the actions required from them.
If you want to discuss this further or have any queries in relation to employee safety, then please contact James Thompson or Sarah Frow on 0113 234 3055 or firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.