In recent years, health and safety fines in the UK have steadily risen, with fines for the most serious offences topping £1 million.
As we revealed last week, during 2020/21 hundreds of organisations were prosecuted for health and safety breaches. In total £26.9 million of health and safety fines were given out and the average fine per case rose from £107,000 in 2019/20 to £145,000 per case in 2020/21.
We were recently reminded of the financial and human cost of health and safety by a sad case involving UK manufacturer of brick products, Ibstock Brick Ltd.
Last month, it was fined for safety breaches after a worker’s hand was entangled and wrapped around the rotating shaft on a lathe.
North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard how, on 28 February 2020, a maintenance engineer was in the process of polishing a metal shaft as it rotated in a manual lathe, using an emery cloth directly by hand and whilst wearing gloves.
The emery cloth became entangled around the rotating shaft and dragged the engineer into the lathe resulting in his hand being severed in the machine. The engineer subsequently underwent surgical amputation below the elbow.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there were failures in the arrangements and controls for the task performed.
The risk assessment in place was not suitable and sufficient in that it did not properly assess or address entanglement risk associated with the direct manual application of emery cloth to the workpiece or the use of gloves.
There was inadequate training, instructions and supervision to ensure that the risks from entanglement with gloves or the emery cloth were prevented.
Ibstock Brick Ltd of Audley Road, Newcastle under Lyme, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and were £530,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,548.20
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Marie-Louise Riley-Roberts said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to assess risk and devise safe methods of working in which their employees should then be instructed and trained.
“If Ibstock Brick Ltd had, had effective managerial arrangements in place for the task undertaken and ensured their employees were following a safe system of work, based upon risk assessment, safe systems of work, supervision, information, instruction and training, then the life changing injuries sustained by this worker could have been prevented.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
How do you protect your company from a health and safety fine?
The best way to protect the welfare of your staff and your company from a health and safety fine is to get on top of your health and safety issues.
We know this sounds obvious, but the truth is 97% of firms never manage to get on top of their health and safety matters properly.
It’s not because bosses and managers don’t care about health and safety – it’s normally because they’re devoting all their efforts to the day-to-day running of their business to make sure it is successful.
That doesn’t always leave time for them to deal with the ‘headache of health and safety’ and they might not have the resources to hire a full-time member of staff to take over the responsibility for them.
If this is in the position that your firm is in, we can help you.
At Acorn, our highly trained team offer a wide range of services to help you get on top of your health and safety issues quickly and efficiently.
What services does Acorn offer to protect firms from health and safety fines?
One of our most sought after services is our Retained Health and Safety Consultant service. This is perfect for bosses and managers who are serious about protecting their staff, their firm’s reputation and themselves and their companies from health and safety fines.
It gives organisations the benefit of the expertise of our team without the cost of employing a full-time employee.
We’re proud to say that in the past 16 years we’ve shown hundreds of businesses, including construction companies, schools and colleges, hospitals, factories and offices, how to easily become health and safety compliant without them having to do the hard work or making mistakes.
We have such faith in our Retained Health and Safety Consultancy support packages that they come with a money-back guarantee.
Essentially, if a firm completes everything we advise them to do within a year and they don’t achieve full health and safety compliance we would give them their money back.
Our commitment to health and safety goes even further than this.
We even offer a free health and safety review surgery to help organisations find out if they are at risk from health and safety breaches and health and safety fines.
During a 30-minute video call we will take firms through our 20-point Health and Safety Compliance Audit and then provide them with a free compliance report so they can identify where they are doing well and where their business could be at risk from health and safety fines.
Are there other ways that Acorn protects firms from health and safety fines?
As well as the wide range of health and safety services we offer, Acorn directors Ian Stone and Neil Munro have also released a free book called Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.
This fantastic book is designed to help people cut through Government red tape and find out the easy way to select a health and safety consultant so they can protect staff, avoid prison and health and safety fines.
Further information about our services is also available from the What We Do section of our website.