Health and safety Executive
A metal castings and machining company in Kent have been fined £160k for serious safety failings, even though there was no actual injury caused.
The prosecution follows the introduction of the new Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines which were introduced on the 1st February, which have caused a significant increase in the fines being imposed upon companies following serious safety failings.
The court heard how an employee of the company was working on the roof of the premises when he slipped and almost fell through a fragile roof.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company failed to provide adequate work at height equipment to carry out the work safely. Employees were also found to have not undertaken any work at height training associated with roof working, an essential safety requirement for the job.
Although the incident happened in September 2014, the case came to court after the introduction of the new Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines.
The new guidelines have caused a significant increase in the fines being handed out by the courts, as there is now a strict step-by-step process the courts must follow when deciding on the level of fines to impose.
After the hearing the HSE Inspector stated “This incident had the potential to cause significant, life threatening injuries to the employee who was affected“.
Companies and their senior management should be aware that such levels of fines are going to become the norm in the future, with fines based on company turnover, rather than profits.
The tendency has in the past been to go after the company following serious health and safety failings. However, the recent approach of the enforcing authorities is also to prosecute individuals where they have a significant input into the potential, or realised, threat.
The new Sentencing Guidelines also outline a step-by-step process to be used when sentencing individuals. This would normally be based on weekly pay, with fines of up to seven times the weekly income. For more serious offences however, a custodial sentence may result.
Company owners, senior and middle managers would be encouraged to make themselves aware of the new Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines.
With such large fines coming into force, it is now more important than ever to ensure you have suitable and adequate health and safety policies, procedures and systems in place to protect yourself and your company.
As part of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999, all companies should have access to competent health and safety advice. This can be provided internally, or where there is inadequate competence within the company, you may opt to use the services of an external health and safety consultancy company, such as Risk Safety Consultants Ltd.
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We provide a retained Competent Person Service for a large range of clients both locally and nationally through our highly skilled health and safety consultants.
If you would like more information about health and safety prosecutions or any of our services please contact us.
Author: Andy Stones (Risk Safety Consultants Ltd)