A Darlington man who was impaled in the chest by a faulty security barrier is supporting a campaign launched today on Workers’ Memorial Day to defend health and safety laws from government attacks.

Jason Ripley, 42, was left fighting for his life when the four foot steel bar penetrated his chest, pinning him to his seat in a lorry he was using to deliver timber supplies to the Harry Williams Group Ltd of Dodsworth Street, Darlington.

Alongside his lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, he is supporting a TUC and union-backed campaign to draw attention to the importance of health and safety laws.

Mr Ripley was injured when a security barrier to the premises was left open and had swung free. As Mr Ripley drove to exit the yard the bar hit the bonnet of his lorry, breaking through the windscreen and impaling him through the chest.

Cuts mean accidents will become more common

Miraculously, it missed all his vital organs but smashed three ribs and caused damage to his right lung. He had a four inch diameter exit wound in his back and now has a two foot long scar.

His experience demonstrates why government attacks on health and safety regulations don’t make sense.

The campaign comes after the government made changes to the number of injuries at work which employers must report as well as halving the number of current health and safety regulations and reducing by a third the number of proactive inspections of premises.

Thompsons argues that the cuts mean accidents like Mr Ripley’s will become more common.

Accident could have been avoided

The firm, drawing on its 90 years of experience of acting only for injured people and the thousands of cases where clients have ended up injured as a result of their employer failing to follow simple health and safety regulations, says the answer isn’t cuts but simple forward-thinking and changes to the workplace.

Mr Ripley’s accident could have been avoided had the Harry Williams Group taken simple measures to ensure the barrier was secured in place when it was open.

Instead he had to be cut out of his vehicle by fire fighters and was put into an induced coma for 24 hours. He has now returned to work.

Thompsons is joining the TUC in its call to arms to defend the UK’s health and safety regulations and for a common sense approach so employers can implement safe practices easily.

Health and safety is not red tape or a burden

Andrew McDonald from Thompsons Solicitors in Middlesbrough said: “The government is obsessed with ‘red tape’ but in our experience health and safety regulations are often nothing more than good management. Attacking health and safety plays to a ‘crisis’ whipped-up by insurers to stop injured people claiming and so boost their profits.

“We have a health and safety record in this country to be proud of and responsible employers know that health and safety is not red tape or a burden. Common sense sees rules change but employers know there are lines in the sand that shouldn't be watered down.

“On behalf of our clients we cannot stand by whilst regulations are tampered with to feed a false frenzy which will only increase the risk of injury and even death to workers.”

Mr Ripley said: “These proposed changes to health and safety don’t make sense. I know how much of an impact on my life my accident had and I would hate for anyone else to be injured because regulations were watered-down.”

Workers’ Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world. For more information log on to http://www.hazards.org/wmd/