Review of Health and Safety Prosecutions in 2020

court gavel depicting health and safety prosecutions

Most business owners will remember 2020 as the year that COVID-19 disrupted operations, wreaked havoc with the economy and transformed the way we work forever. Effective health and safety management was thrust to the top of the agenda in every organisation across all sectors.

In addition to the pandemic, which focussed attention on protecting workers’ health and wellbeing, there were a number of high-profile legal cases that highlighted the importance of compliance with health and safety legislation for all businesses.

In this blog, we’ll review some of the prosecutions in 2020 to gain an insight into health and safety legislation and the potentially devastating consequences of non-compliance. Investing the time and budget to establish a robust system of health and safety could protect your business from the devastating effects of a workplace incident — loss of income, crippling non-compliance fees, compensation claims and irreparable damage to the company brand.

Housing Association Fined for Providing Inadequate Training and Information 

On 3 December 2020, Liverpool housing association company, Onward Homes Ltd. was fined £80,000 plus costs of £5,293.10 for breaches of Regulation 5 (1), 6(1) and 7 of the Control of Vibrations at Work Regulations 2005.

Four employees developed a debilitating nerve condition because they were unaware of the risks involved in the regular use of vibrating equipment. Liverpool Magistrates’ Court found that the company had failed to fulfil its legal responsibility to provide adequate information and training about the health risks involved in using the tools.

Howlett Health and Safety Services has an extensive programme of face-to-face and online training programmes to meet key health and safety needs. All our online training courses are CPD, RoSPA, IATP or IIRSM Approved. Contact us to find out how to manage workplace risks and avoid falling foul of health and safety legislation.

Manufacturing Company Fined for Failing to Effectively Assess and Mitigate Risk

In December 2020, titanium supply company, VDMPO Tirus Limited, was fined £200,000 plus costs of £7,293.15 for a failure to suitably and efficiently assess the risk of material falling from a metal cutting band saw machine and causing injury.

When worker Steven McDonald was seriously injured in this manner, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the accident could have been prevented by making a simple alteration to the machine bed had the risk been appropriately assessed and mitigated against. VDMPO was in breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Contact us for help conducting a thorough risk assessment of your workplace and implementing safety measures that will protect your employees from harm and your business from the devastating effects of a workplace injury.

Facilities Management Company Fined for Failure to Provide Safe Systems of Working

In September 2020, facilities management company, Totally Local Company Ltd., was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,367.36 after an employee was crushed between a ride-on-roller and shipping container while works were being undertaken to improve a footpath. The worker sustained serious injuries.

The HSE found that the company had no traffic management plan in place and consequently both workers and the general public were exposed to unnecessary risks. The company was in breach of section 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 because they failed to fulfil their responsibility to implement a safe system of working, including providing employees with adequate information, instruction and training.

Have you reviewed your health and safety policies and ways of working recently? We can help with our comprehensive health and safety review service. Make sure that your business is fully compliant with relevant health and safety legislation by continually monitoring safety procedures and adapting them to changes in the workplace and workforce.

Local Authority Fined for Failure to Assess and Reduce Risk 

In October 2020, an investigation by the HSE into the assault of a teacher by a pupil at Putteridge High School found that Luton Borough Council had failed to give effective consideration to the risk of injury or death posed by pupils to others and to reduce this risk to as low as reasonably practicable.

The Council had a legal responsibility to ensure that the school had people who were sufficiently competent to manage health and safety in the school, which it did not do. This failure to provide adequate training or monitoring of health and safety provisions meant that the Council was in breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 and was fined £104,000 plus £60,000 costs.

The repercussions of non-compliance with health and safety legislation can be devastating for a business. Employers must make sure that they understand their legal responsibilities, that they conduct thorough and regular risk assessments and that safe systems of work are implemented to protect employees and others who may visit the premises.

Howlett Health and Safety Services offer over 30 years of experience in consultancy with businesses across a wide range of sectors. We can help you to maintain compliance with relevant health and safety legislation by conducting risk assessments, reviewing your existing health and safety provision and delivering effective training. Contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation and quote.

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