Sentencing guidelines: Learn from others' safety shortcomings

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With the release of new Sentencing Guidelines, we know that 2016 has been a record-breaking year for health and safety fines. While increasing frequency of fines of over £1 million can be frightening to health and safety managers and manufacturing businesses, there are important lessons in these cases that can prevent similar mistakes from happening again.

Want the best advice on new sentencing guidelines and recent cases? Join our webinar with our health and safety experts and Squire Patton Boggs, a leading health and safety legal firm.

Our health and safety experts work with businesses across the UK to undertake risk assessments, review policies and procedures, advice on new legal requirements and do on-site walk-throughs to ensure compliance. In looking at recent safety breaches and the associated fines, they’ve outlined their advice to companies to avoid similar fates:

 

Company

Incident

Fine

What can we learn?

Travis Perkins

A customer was loading planks of wood onto the roof of his car. He fell backwards and was run over by a company vehicle and died from crushing injuries. The company’s turnover is £2.198 billion.

£2million (Sentenced as a ‘large’ company because of extensive mitigation)

Think and look beyond your activities and make sure your risk assessments cover all activities that your business affects – including those that may seem trivial or may be completed by customers or the public or that may appear to be out of your control.

What would help? skills of your health and safety managers, risk assessments and risk management.

Tata Steel

Two employees suffered injuries to their hands on two separate occasions: 1) a worker lost two-thirds of his left hand and middle and ring fingers whilst trying to clear a blockage on a steel tube manufacturing line which had unsuitable guarding. 2) a worker lost part of his little finger when his left hand was caught in an inadequately guarded machine. Company’s turnover was £4.2bn but operating at a loss before tax of £306m.

£1.98m (£185,000 for the first offence and £1.8m for the second offence)

An accident is rarely an isolated error – if effective controls aren’t in place in one area it is quite possible that they aren’t in other areas, too. Make sure all accidents are investigated with risks viewed from a company-wide perspective.

What would help? Incident response services.

G4S Cash Solutions Ltd

An employee had contracted legionella there was no evidence that this was caused by G4S’s premises. However, on investigation it had been found that the hot and cold water systems had been badly managed and there had been inadequate policies, monitoring, testing and training for staff. They had also failed to act on the advice of their own consultant. Turnover: £240m with a profit of £43m.

£1.8m (reduced for early guilty plea)

Policies and procedures are the backbone of health and safety, and it is essential that sufficient precautions are in place for all risks.

What would help? Management system, risk management and skills of your health and safety managers.

Decco

Agency worker died after falling 2.4m from a loading platform where gates were unsuitable. Turnover £102m.

£2.2m

Even though it may appear that controls are in place the company must ensure they are suitable and fit for purpose.

What would help? Management system, risk management and skills of your health and safety managers.


Safety-related fines are not only damaging (or fatal) to staff and their employers, but they damage credibility with customers and business reputation. Don’t leave your organisation open to these increasingly serious situations through proper training for managers and staff, bringing in an expert consultant (on an ongoing or one-time basis) and attending our webinar on Sentencing guidelines: analysing the impact so far.

Author

Health, Safety and Sustainability Delivery Lead

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