The BBC this week reported on figures released by the NHS for the numbers of people admitted to English hospitals in 2020/21 following what are termed “household accidents”. They make interesting reading. On the one hand, the numbers in many categories fell as people stayed indoors more, but there was an increase in several others, including injuries caused by “DIY disasters” as more people turned to their rusty or dubious DIY skills to tackle those outstanding little jobs during lockdown and furlough.

For instance:

  • 5300 were admitted to hospital after falling from play equipment. Fair enough, children do that all the time and the average age of the patients was 9 and a half. But the statistics also included 8 people over the age of 90!  You can only admire them for having a go, really.
  • 5600 were injured after “coming into contact with an electric hand tool”. Probably the first time they’d touched it since it was a Christmas present 3 years before… Always read the instructions!
  • 2700 needed treatment after an accident with a “non-powered hand tool”, such as a hammer or a saw. Operator error there, surely?
  • 349 got into an argument with a lawnmower-and lost.
  • 2243 were injured by hot drinks, food, fats and cooking oils
  • 18 people were struck by lightning in 2020/21, up from 3 in 2019/20. No doubt following Government guidelines to get outside and take their daily exercise
  • Claims for damage to and injuries related to hot tubs increased by 188% percent in 2020
  • 7386 people were bitten or struck by a dog (hopefully not their own “lock-down puppy”)
  • 60 needed treatment after being injured by venomous spiders
  • 1 90- year- old woman was bitten or struck by a crocodile or alligator. We do hope she was alright, but we would love to know the story behind THAT one!

These were only those admitted to hospital and so the true figure for injuries may be much higher if we could see how many didn’t seek treatment.

We can smile at these statistics, but there is a serious point to be made.  Even in “normal” times, the NHS is stretched and no department more so than Accident and Emergency.  This is being exacerbated to breaking point by the Covid pandemic.  Only this week United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust reported “significant staff pressures due to Covid absences”, made worse of course by the Omicron variant. The Trust is reassuring people however that essential services were being maintained.

We don’t see a lot of DIY injuries as PI solicitors, because of course, you can’t sue yourself for compensation for your own negligence!  We do deal with claims for injuries caused by faulty products and for workplace accidents which can cause quite substantial and in some cases life changing injuries. Despite having very tight Health and Safety regulations and procedures -and we make no apologies for that-injuries do occur all too frequently in the workplace due to negligence and non-adherence to those regulations and procedures.  Every worker is entitled to a safe place of work in which to carry out their job.

You can help by making 2022 the year of taking extra care to avoid those round-the- house accidents.

  • Read instructions for equipment and machinery
  • Know your limits. 8- year olds tend to bounce more than 80 year olds.  Don’t lift things that are too heavy or too high or low.  Backs “go” very easily.
  • Don’t do jobs outside your capabilities -chain saws on that hedge can be lethal to the untrained and specialist equipment is needed for tall trees and the like
  • Make sure you are fully prepared for jobs you do do and that the equipment you intend to use is in proper working order and safe and suitable to use, conforming to safety standards
  • Keep equipment under review and replace or service as required
  • Wear proper protective clothing, such as steel toe -capped boots or safety goggles
  • Do the job in suitable conditions
  • If in doubt, get a professional in. Not only will they do a better and safer job, they’ll be insured if anything happens to them, which non tradespeople usually aren’t. How would you cope with even a few weeks loss of earnings?
  • Get dogs trained not to jump up or run around loose except where safe to do so. In particular, take extra care with children around and do not leave ANY dog alone with them, especially vulnerable babies and toddlers
  • If you have unusual or potentially dangerous pets, make sure they are housed safely and that you know how to care for and handle them. Keep away from children.  Have a suitable antidote to poisons to hand, stored safely

This is not an exhaustive list, obviously, but just a few common-sense pointers to try and avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls.  This will not only hopefully protect you,  but will also ease the pressure on the NHS, especially in these trying times.

If you suffer a workplace accident, contact our Personal Injury team on 01522 561020 or email wecanhelp@ringroselaw.co.uk for a discussion about whether you should consider a claim

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