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Is it worth a risk?

Updated: Jan 11

Goethe may have said that "the dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety", however this is not the case when it comes to the health, safety and well being of your employees and workers.

In January this year, Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard how a plant hire company from the Midlands was building a new aggregate recycling facility at their site using a cherry picker to lay cladding on the roof. Some areas of the roof were difficult to reach. The Court heard that employees had to step onto the roof where no edge protection had been provided. This put the employees at risk of a 30 foot fall. In addition, there were not facilities for hand washing on the site during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The employees had no method statement to follow when they climbed onto the roof and there were no preventative measures in place to prevent a fall from height.

The company pleaded guilty to breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company was fined £66,667 and ordered to pay costs of £1,847. The fine was determined by the Court applying a one third discount to the starting point of £100,000 to acknowledge the company’s early guilty plea.

This is a case where there was no harm or injury caused to anyone. It highlights the key principle that underpins health and safety law in the UK and that is whether there was a risk of harm to employees or workers.

The identification of a risk provides the Health and Safety Executive with sufficient grounds to prosecute. Since the increase in penalties introduced by the Sentencing Guidelines in 2016, the fines faced by companies are significant.

Is it worth the risk?

As solicitors in Hull and East Yorkshire, Sewell Law can assist if your company is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive or another regulatory authority. Seeking legal advice early can mean that you are better equipped in your defence. With many years’ experience in regulatory law, we have the expertise to walk your business through every stage of the process.

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