Most offices provide employees with the facilities to heat food and enjoy that all-important morning cuppa. A kettle and microwave are standard appliances in most workplace kitchens, and provided these appliances are PAT tested and well maintained, there is no reason to think that they pose a risk to health and safety. Being able to make a cup of tea or coffee on your break or heat up your food at lunch time is an important part of any shift at work, but did you know that some workplaces have banned the use of kettles, microwaves and other appliances, citing a health and safety risk as the reason?
There are many cases of bizarre health and safety rules being used by workplaces and organisations across the country – so many in fact that the Health and Safety Executive set up their own panel to investigate.
What are some of the most bizarre health and safety cases?
The Myth Busting Challenge Panel was set up by the HSE to investigate bizarre health and safety cases across the UK, hunting down companies who used health and safety as an excuse to avoid carrying out perfectly sensible activities and actions. Some of the most bizarre health and safety findings included:
- A recycling centre which banned children from waiting in the car outside
- A workplace which banned an employee from using antibacterial wipes to clean the interior of vehicles, saying this could lead to the development of a ‘superbug’
- A gym which changed its 24/7 opening hours, citing health and safety as its main reason for doing so
Other bizarre health and safety myths that the team uncovered included a case where the game ‘Pin the tail on the donkey’ was banned as it was deemed a health and safety risk, and a case where school children were ordered to wear clip-on ties, as regular ties were considered a choking hazard.
So are kettles and microwaves allowed at work?
Although nine out of 10 electrical fires are caused by electrical products such as kettles, toasters and microwaves, the risk of being injured by a kettle or microwave at work is actually quite low. Your employer has a responsibility to provide you with the means to heat food up at work, and it is also their responsibility to ensure that any equipment they provide is safe. This means things like ensuring it is well maintained and safe to use, that it is kept clean and that it is PAT tested by a qualified person on a regular basis. In fact, according to statistics from the US, two out of five microwave injuries treated at hospitals in 2012 were scalds, which are usually caused by people using microwaves incorrectly and not letting their food cool down. This is not a reason for employers to ban the use of microwaves and kettles in the workplace, as a little common sense goes a long way towards preventing injuries from happening.
What health and safety responsibilities does your employer have?
There may be many cases of bizarre health and safety rules out there, but your employer does ultimately take responsibility for the health and safety of staff whilst they are at work. If you’ve been injured in an accident at work and you feel that your employer is to blame, you could make a claim for personal injury compensation with Accident Advice Helpline. Your employer should always ensure that they do the following:
- Maintain equipment, vehicles and machinery to a safe standard – this includes repairing any faults promptly
- Ensure electrical equipment (such as lamps, kettles, microwaves, toasters and so on) are PAT tested and safe to use
- Act quickly when faults are reported to them by employees
- Ensure staff have the training they need to carry out their work safely
- Make sure that they carry out risk assessments
- Ensure that staff take the rest breaks they are entitled to
- Provide PPE where necessary at no extra cost to the employee
If your employer has failed on any of these counts, or if they have failed to do anything which has led to you being injured as a result, then you could make a claim for personal injury compensation, provided it has been three years or less since your accident.
How many people are injured at work?
If you have been injured in an accident at work, whether bizarre health and safety regulations were at fault or not, you are not alone. Around 144 workers are killed in accidents at work every year in the UK, and according to the Labour Force Survey, 620,000 injuries occurred at work between 2015 and 2016. Whilst there are some jobs where you are undoubtedly more at risk of injury than others – for example if you work in a factory with heavy machinery or on a farm with agricultural vehicles – you could be injured in any type of workplace, from an office or shop to a warehouse. With so many injuries taking place each year, it’s perhaps surprising that many people don’t bother to make a claim for personal injury compensation.
You’re entitled to compensation after a workplace accident
At the end of the day, whether you have suffered an electric shock from a faulty kettle at work or broken your ankle after tripping on damaged flooring, you’re entitled to claim personal injury compensation. You can’t lose your job for making a claim and it’s unlikely you will have to go to court, as Accident Advice Helpline can process most claims in full over the phone. You could get in touch with us today to find out if you have a viable claim, by calling our freephone helpline on 0800 689 0500 (or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile), or take the 30-second test on our website right now for an idea of how much compensation you could be entitled to if your claim is successful.
There are no upfront fees to worry about as our personal injury lawyers work on a 100% no-win, no-fee* basis, so whether you have suffered a minor or more serious injury after an accident at work, you can afford to claim compensation.
Date Published: November 19, 2013
Author: David Brown