7 health and safety mistakes that you will get sued for

7 health and safety mistakes that you will get sued for

Avoid these H&S mistakes that result in average fines of £52,000

You cannot afford to take health and safety in your workplace lightly. You’ve got to be on top of your game always. Mistakes and neglect can lead to serious injuries and deaths. Here are seven examples of poor H&S procedures, which have led to accidents and, in some cases, death or life-changing injuries. In each of these cases, the companies involved were fined.

1.      Insufficient safety measures for those working at height

A Glasgow company was fined £200,000 after it was found that adequate precautions had not been taken to prevent an accident which led to a worker’s death. The employee was thrown from a cherry picker after it fell from the edge of a concrete plinth at the Annick Water Viaduct.

(See our article Working at height – the rules)

2.      Unguarded machines, which allow operators to reach into dangerous parts

A Chester-le-Street, Durham, cable manufacturing company was fined £40,000 after a worker lost a little finger in an unguarded machine. HSE inspector Victoria Crofton said, “This injury was easily prevented, and the risk should have been identified. Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.”

(See our article What is a risk assessment?)

3.      Failure to inspect and maintain machinery

A groundworks company was fined £23,000 and ordered to pay more than £5,000 in costs after it was found guilty of failing to inspect and maintain the handbrake of a dumper. The dumper had been parked on a slight incline, and left unattended. It rolled into a trench and pinned a worker against concrete blocks. The worker suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, multiple arm fractures and a broken nose.

HSE Inspector Glyn Davies said, “This case highlights the importance of regularly inspecting and maintaining construction vehicles, including site dumpers, to ensure they do not deteriorate to the extent that they put people’s safety at risk.”

4.      Poor traffic control procedures in your warehouse/yard/distribution centre

A grain milling company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 in costs after an accident in a warehouse involving a pedestrian and a forklift. Insufficient measures had been taken to protect and separate pedestrians from circulating vehicles. Also, the company had not put in place temporary measures to prevent collisions with moving vehicles.

HSE Inspector Jennifer French said, “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe working methods and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers, in the safe system of working. If a suitable system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life-changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

5.      Failing to protect against asbestos risks

A construction company was fined £28,000 and ordered to pay costs after being found guilty of failing to protect its workers against exposure to asbestos when working at a primary school in Dursley. Unsafe asbestos removal procedures were used, and the company was unlicensed to carry out the work.

HSE Inspector James Lucas said, “The company in this case should have ensured appropriate measures were identified during the planning process to include the engagement of a licensed asbestos contractor to carry out correct control measures and safe working practices for the removal of the asbestos.”

6.      Not ensuring safe processes when working with dangerous substances

What do you consider to be dangerous substances? What substances could be stored inappropriately and cause a massive explosion, fire, and eight people to be injured, including one who was in a coma for 15 weeks?

A Sussex-based company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £30,000 when found to have breached the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and pleading guilty to offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. And the dangerous substance for which it had failed to put in place suitable safety procedures? Printer toner.

HSE Inspector Michelle Canning said, “eReco failed to take the required precautions before starting a process of work with dangerous substances and this failure resulted in this serious, life-threatening explosion. Both designers and suppliers must ensure that the risks of using their equipment are eliminated through safe design, and this should include taking into account foreseeable misuse.”

7.      Getting it all wrong, with multiple health and safety failures

A Liverpool company was fined after it was found guilty of multiple health and safety breaches. These included:

  • Breaches of asbestos regulations
  • Disregard for working at height rules
  • No personal protective equipment (PPE) was supplied
  • No toilet or washing provisions on site

The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of almost £7,000.

HSE Inspector Jacqueline Western said, “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

(See our article How to develop an effective health and safety policy)

How much could poor health and safety cost you?

The average fine in these cases is around £52,000. But fines can be much higher. Not detailed in these seven examples of why you could get sued on health and safety grounds is the recent £1.6 million fine slapped on Royal Mail for failures to:

  • Undertake suitable and sufficient risk assessments and monitoring
  • Provide adequate safety information, training, instruction, and supervision
  • Maintain safe workplace transport arrangements including road markings and signage

Our advice is to avoid the possibility of a fine. Make sure you are on top of health and safety in the workplace always. Contact Sentry today to discover the cost-effective way to remain health and safety conscious and fine free.

Cookie settings

We use cookies to help improve your experience with personalised content and tailored advertisements. You can control these by clicking 'Manage settings'.

Allow all Cookies Manage Setting