Can you afford to ignore health and safety law?

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What words spring to mind when you think about health and safety? Red tape? Bureaucracy gone mad? Time-consuming? A waste of time?

When business owners are working towards targets, health and safety can often seem a hindrance that’s getting in between them and their goals.

For others, the whole topic of health and safety can seem so complex and overwhelming they write it off completely, opting to ignore it altogether so they can focus purely on the work they have in hand.

We have every sympathy for business owners and managers who feel that health and safety is one big headache. Every day we offer support to organisations of all shapes and sizes so that they can leave that very headache behind them and focus on their day-to-day operations safe in the knowledge their health and safety needs are being managed by our expert team.

Whether you choose to bring in highly qualified external health and safety consultants, like our team at Acorn Safety Services, or decide to manage your requirements in-house you must get on top of your health and safety needs. Company bosses who don’t do this run the risk of people being injured or even killed and could find themselves facing prosecution.

Often when a firm has broken health and safety law it is the company that faces crippling fines and court costs but company owners and managers can also be individually prosecuted. They may receive fines and in some cases even prison sentences.

In recent weeks, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has reported on the details of one such case where a builder was imprisoned for 24 weeks after he failed to report a serious incident at a construction site that he was in charge of.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that on 8 January 2019, worker Simon Lewis had been clearing a site on Clarence Avenue, New Malden, with an excavator so a new house could be built. The excavator tipped while digging and it trapped Mr Lewis’ leg, resulting in an amputation.

An investigation by the HSE found Mr Lewis had no formal training for operating excavators and had requested a 3-ton model was provided for the work. However, only a smaller 1.7-ton excavator was provided, and Mr Lewis was put under pressure to use this.

The incident was not reported to the HSE within 10 days as required and the defendant, Paul Adams, had not investigated the incident. The HSE was only able to start an investigation more than eight months later when the victim complained. By this time crucial evidence relating to the cause of the incident was unobtainable and the work was almost completed.

There was no health and safety related documentation and there was no employer’s insurance cover for Mr Lewis to claim against. Mr Adams had not obtained any health and safety related training during his 50 years in the construction industry.

Paul Adams, trading as Surrey Conversions of Sutton Common Road, Sutton, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 3(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. He received a 24-week custodial sentence and was ordered to pay costs of £2,033.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers said: “This case re-enforces how important it is that incidents are reported so they can be investigated, and improvements made to prevent serious incidents in future.

“The judge noted Mr Adams had not reported the incident even when prompted to by a solicitor, and that despite his construction experience he had failed to take any interest in understanding his legal duties nor invest in health and safety.

“Mr Adams claimed in court that he had stopped working for months due to the impact of the incident. However, the evidence showed he had continued with the work.

“The judge commented on how distressing it must have been for Mr Lewis on top of his life changing injury, to know the incident was not being investigated.”

He added: “We went to great efforts to ensure Mr Adams made improvements. However, in court it was confirmed that although he had told the probation officer, he had stopped work, he was still carrying out construction work at an unidentified site despite failing a health and safety test.”

Our team of experts at Acorn Safety Services work with a wide variety of organisations and have decades of experience of working with construction firms.

Our experienced CDM (Construction Design and Management) consultants help clients, principal designers and principal contractors so whatever your role is on your construction project we can help you.

We also provide construction safety inspection and audits for all types of construction sites across the UK and as we are an independent and certified construction health and safety company you can be confident that the advice and recommendations you receive from us will always be in your best interests.

So if you need help managing health and safety needs on your construction site visit https://acornhealthandsafety.co.uk/ today or contact us at info@acornhealthandsafety.co.uk or on 01604 930380.

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