Recent examples of Health and Safety prosecution across the UK, the fines/sentences issued and an outline of the key health and safety breaches.
£380k in fines after worker fell through roof
Two companies have been fined more than £380k after a worker fell through the roof of a retail unit in Milton Keynes.
The roofer, who was 32 at the time, fell more than 20 feet through a roof light on to a suspended ceiling at Unit 103, Watling Street, on 19 July 2019. The man landed on the floor below and broke his ankle.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was ineffective planning of access arrangements to and on the roof by STP Construction Ltd, resulting in workers having to pass fragile materials before they could make use of the fall arrest system installed there.
Two companies involved in the incident were fined a total of over £388,000 + Costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Jenny Morris said: “This incident could have easily been avoided. Assessing and planning work at height is essential to ensuring that suitable and sufficient measures are in place to prevent falls from height.
Wine company fined £800k after HGV driver killed
A wine and drinks supplier has been fined after a visiting HGV driver was killed after being hit by a forklift truck at its depot in Salford.
John Fitzpatrick was waiting for his trailer to be loaded at Kingsland Drinks Ltd in Irlam on 19 August 2020 when tragedy struck. The 59-year-old, form Oldham, suffered serious head injuries in the incident and died in hospital having never regained consciousness.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed in a number of areas.
The risk assessment was out of date and not fit for purpose, and there was no pedestrian and vehicle segregation in place in the loading area. Visiting drivers were not given clear information about site safety.
At a sentencing hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 25 January, Kingsland Drinks Ltd of The Winery, Fairhills Road, Irlam, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
They were fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,614.30.
Health board fined £160,000 for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
A Welsh health board has been fined after three employees were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
Powys Teaching Health Board required its employees to routinely operate handheld power tools such as lawn mowers, strimmers and hedge cutters without carrying out an assessment of the risks from exposure to vibration.
There was no monitoring, or any estimate of exposure to vibration, even though employees, particularly during the summer months, operated handheld power tools for several hours a day.
The lack of monitoring, assessment, training and health surveillance has allowed employees to operate handheld power tools for a significant period, in some cases several decades, without having the necessary measures in place to reduce the risk. This led to three employees being diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome.
Powys Teaching Health Board of Glasbury House, Bronllys Hospital, Bronllys, Powys, Wales, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
They were fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,599 at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court on 22 November 2022.
Eddie Stobart fined after workers exposed to asbestos
Logistics company Eddie Stobart has been fined after work at one of its sites exposed staff to asbestos.
The firm was fined £133,000 for a series of failures that took place while excavation work was carried out at its rail and container freight port in Widnes. Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were disturbed by the building work, putting staff at risk.
Manchester Magistrates Court heard that in early 2018, an area of the company’s Mersey Multimodal Gateway in Widnes was earmarked for the storage of empty containers.
As the ground had become damaged by heavy lift loaders used to move containers, it was decided to scrape away the top layer to reach an older, more level surface below.
This work took place over several months and subsequently the remnants of old buildings containing asbestos were present in the surface material. It was several months after the work had been completed that testing was carried out and the subsequent survey identified ACMs in the mounds of spoil, as well as scattered around the footprint where the work had taken place.
The company then failed to report the incident under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) within the 10-day timeframe required.
Eddie Stobart Ltd, of Stretton Green Distribution Park, Langford Way, Appleton, Warrington, Cheshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and Regulation 11(1) of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The company was fined £133,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,260 on 4 November 2022.
Worker died after falling into a hot water tank
A catering equipment cleaning company has been fined £200,000 after a worker died after falling into a tank of hot water.
The man fell through the lid of a tank of hot water heated to 76° centigrade and died a week later in hospital. It happened on 8 January 2018 when the worker was standing on the lid of a covered tank at Pan Glo (UK) Ltd, in Skelmersdale, Lancashire when it gave way.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company Pan Glo (UK) Ltd, previously known as Cleanbake Ltd, had failed to carry out risk assessments or develop written systems of work for any maintenance to the tank line.
There was no instruction about what should or shouldn’t be done when access to the restricted rear area was necessary, including whether it was acceptable to walk across the tops and lids of the tanks. This resulted in employees routinely accessing the area in this way, placing themselves at significant risk and which subsequently led to this death.
At Preston Magistrates’ Court on October 18, Pan Glo (UK) Ltd of Seddon Place, Skelmersdale, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,597.17.
Worker broke his back in 2ft fall from forklift truck
A logistics company has been fined £400,000 after a worker broke his back when he fell from a forklift truck.
The injured man was one of two employees who were loading a shipping container at freight forwarders Reliable Shipping Limited, on the Severalls Industrial Estate, Colchester, ready for it to be dispatched on 26 September 2019.
To reach the highest pallets inside the container, the man who was hurt had been lifted up on the forks of the forklift to stack boxes on top of an already wrapped pallet.
He fell approximately two foot and landed on the corner of a pallet on the floor resulting in multiple spinal fractures.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Reliable Shipping Limited had no safe system of work for loading and unloading the containers, and it did not have appropriate work-at-height equipment.
The company had a risk assessment for working at height, but it was not suitable nor sufficient and did not correctly assess the working environment or correct control measures.
Reliable Shipping Limited, of Severalls Industrial Park, Colchester, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company appealed against a fine of £500,000, which was reduced to £400,000 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 23 September 2022.
Dyson fined £1.2m after worker injured by machine
Technology firm Dyson has been fined £1.2m after an employee sustained head and chest injuries when he was struck by a 1.5 tonne milling machine.
The worker at Dyson’s Wiltshire factory was hit while moving the machine, which fell on top of him. He only escaped being crushed under the weight of the machine because it landed on two toolboxes and the handle of another machine.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Dyson Technology Limited failed to provide suitable and sufficient information, instruction, and training to those undertaking the task.
They also failed to adequately assess the task and devise a safe system of work to ensure the machine was moved safely.
At Swindon Magistrates’ Court Dyson Technology Limited of Tetbury Hill, Malmesbury, Wiltshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £1.2m and ordered to pay costs of £11,511.
Transport company fined £480,000 after fatal fall from lorry
While unloading the vehicle at Cotswold Doors Limited, Fairford, on 23 April 2018, he climbed onto the lorry bed, and then the load, to untangle securing straps. He fell more than 7ft from the lorry on to a concrete floor, was injured and died the following day from his injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company did not have in place a safe system of work for work at height on vehicles because it had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
The company was fined £480,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,053 at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on June 28 2022.
Carlsberg fined £3m following 2016 ammonia gas leak
Carlsberg has been fined £3 million after a contractor died and another was seriously injured following an ammonia gas leak at one of its breweries.
Father-of-two David Chandler, 45, was killed and David Beak, now 57, was seriously injured. Twenty people needed hospital checks after showing symptoms of ammonia exposure.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that at its Northampton brewery Carlsberg had failed to put in place appropriate isolation controls to prevent exposure to ammonia before work started to remove a compressor from a refrigeration system.
On 9 November 2016 while the compressor was being removed, there was a large, uncontrolled release of ammonia.
Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, pleaded guilty to charges under Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1)[Risk Assessment] of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The company was fined £3 million with costs of £90,000.
Sea food processing company fined after fatality involving forklift
A sea food processing company has been fined after a worker died following injuries sustained when she was run over by a forklift.
Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on 31 January 2018, that Karen Allen’ an employee of QA Fish Ltd suffered significant leg injuries as a pedestrian, following a vehicular collision in Scalloway, Shetland.
A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Police Scotland found that no site-specific workplace transport risk assessment had been carried out.
The company failed to implement effective arrangements for the management of health and safety and also failed to act on the advice of a health and safety consultant several years prior to the incident.
QA Fish Ltd of Blacksness Pier, Shetland have pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £80,000, to be paid within 12 months.
The HSE commented that the accident ‘should have been prevented via suitable and sufficient control measures segregating pedestrians from vehicle movements‘.
Chemical Company fined after worker suffered burns
Robert McBride Ltd was sentenced today for safety breaches after a 31-year-old worker suffered 13 per cent superficial burns to his right arm and hand following the ignition of flammable vapours at the company’s site in Hull.
Beverley Magistrates’ Court heard that on 21 August 2017, a batch of hairspray was being mixed in a 10,000 litre stainless steel mixing vessel. Flammable vapours were created within the mixing vessel as a result of heating.
As the worker was adding powders into the vessel via the lid using a metal scoop, flammable vapours leaving the vessel via the lid ignited, briefly engulfing his upper torso.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was an extraction system at the lip of the manway lid to remove vapours from this area, but it was not adequate to prevent a build-up of a flammable atmosphere. The ignition source is likely to have been a spark from the metal scoop, or static electricity build up on the workers clothing.
Robert McBride Ltd of Hornscroft Park, Kinswood, Hull pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002.
The company was fined £480,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,441.80.
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Spring manufacturer sentenced after worker severs fingers
A spring manufacturing company has been fined after an employee had two fingers of his right hand severed whilst attempting to lubricate a bandsaw.
Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how on 2 October 2019, a labourer employed by Hanson Springs Ltd in Rochdale was assisting in the cutting back department to cut sections of steel spring using a vertical bandsaw when the blade began to smoke and squeal.
The worker decided to replace the blade, as on inspection it appeared heavily worn. He attempted to lubricate the new blade, by pressing a cardboard tube of wax onto the exposed section of it whilst it ran. The tube was drawn in, in turn drawing in the worker’s hand, severing the middle two fingers at the first and second knuckle respectively.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although the worker had received training from the supervisor in using the machine, it was of poor quality, no formal competency assessment had been carried out, nor was he certain that he could use the machine unsupervised.
Furthermore, despite lubrication of the blades in this manner being standard practice within the company, it was unnecessary as the machine was self-lubricating.
Hanson Springs Ltd of Hanson Place, Gorrells Way, Rochdale, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,394.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Lennon said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided. “Employers should ensure they carry out an assessment of the risks and put in safe system of works for the operation of all machinery.
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Sheetmetal fabrication company in court after worker’s finger crushed
A company specialising in manufacturing canopies and ventilation ducting has been fined after an employee’s hand was drawn into the rotating parts of a machine, resulting in serious injury.
Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how on 14 October 2019, an apprentice of R Briggs Sheetmetal Fabrication Ltd, was instructed by another apprentice and a trainee on how to operate a swaging machine.
This consisted of two rotating wheels controlled by a foot pedal, used to put a groove around a ducting tube. After carrying this process out on approximately four pieces of tubing, the apprentice was left to proceed on their own, unsupervised.
Whilst continuing the task a the fabric safety glove worn by the apprentice caught in the rotating wheels of the machine.
On releasing the foot pedal, the wheels took a few seconds to stop, drawing the apprentice’s hand between them. The employee suffered from a crushed fingertip and a fracture.
As a result of the incident the worker was unable to work for two months.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had not performed a risk assessment for using the machine or implemented any safe systems of work including recognising that the gloves presented a drawing-in and entanglement hazard on that machine.
They did not provide staff with adequate training or assess the additional risks presented by a young, inexperienced person working with machinery and being unaware of existing or potential risks.
R.Briggs Sheetmetal Fabrication Ltd of Bond Street, Colne, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The company was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,682.
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Chemical sentence after fatal fall through roof
A company has been sentenced after an employee of a Powys construction company was fatally injured in Liverpool when he fell six metres through a roof whilst working on a replacement roof project.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that on 22 May 2017, roofer Marius Andrus was completing snagging work on a replacement roof.
The worker had accessed a part of the old roof made of fragile asbestos cement sheets, which gave way. He fell through the sheets to the ground below sustaining fatal injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the area accessed did not have safety nets fitted and that the employer failed to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk to those working on the roof.
AJM Services (Midlands) Ltd of Llanfihangel, Llanfyllin, Powys pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
The company was fined £51,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.
The owners of the building had previously been prosecuted in relation to the same accident.
Owners of the building, Pearsons Glass of Maddrell Street, Liverpool pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, section 3, at an earlier hearing and were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in February 2021.
The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,656.
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