Willy Wonka and the Lawsuit

This week it was reported that Mars Wrigley had been ordered by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration to pay more than $14,500 (£12,000) in fines after an accident in which two workers fell into a vat of chocolate. Both workers, employed by an outside contracting firm, fell into the chocolate tank while doing maintenance work at the M&M and Mars factory in Elizabethtown Pennsylvania. It’s claimed the workers were not trained on the proper safety procedures for the equipment and therefore were not authorised to work in the tanks.

Accidents at work occur when an employer fails to provide a safe working environment for their employees, and unfortunately, they’re all too common. Last year it was reported that 565,000 UK workers sustained non-fatal injuries at the workplace. In order to insure employers take a preventive approach to workplace accidents there are laws in place. Health and safety law states that organisations must:

  • assess risks to employees, customers, partners and any other people who could be affected by their activities;
  • arrange for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of preventive and protective measures;
  • have a written health and safety policy if they employ five or more people;
  • ensure they have access to competent health and safety advice;
  • consult employees about their risks at work and current preventive and protective measures.

Failure to comply with these requirements can have serious consequences, they’re risking sanctions including fines, imprisonment and disqualification, as well as their staff’s lives. If an employer’s negligence does result in injury then the victim would be entitled to compensation which would be negotiated and paid from their insurance.

Speaking of negligence and chocolate factories though, remember when Willy Wonka invited a bunch of kids to his chocolate factory? One drowned in the chocolate river, one was blown up into a giant blueberry, one was attacked by crazed squirrels and one accidentally shrunk down to 2 inches tall. Good times.

Mr Wonka was in no doubt in breach of health and safety procedures, if he even had any in place!

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