We look at the focus of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in March, review some key prosecutions from February, and reflect on the impact of sentencing guidelines five years on from their introduction.
Are they inspecting near you?
Although the government’s targets for easing lockdown restrictions are edging closer, the focus of the HSE remains on inspecting Covid-security in the workplace. This is relevant to businesses in all sectors and locations, with recent communications stressing the ongoing importance of Covid-19 Risk Assessments. It is important to remember that while you may currently have a risk assessment in place, you should be reviewing this regularly to ensure that it remains compliant.
£5million in fines and four prison sentences
Prosecutions in February covered separate incidents involving three fatalities and 10 major life changing injuries and illnesses. These prosecutions led to fines exceeding £5million and four prison sentences spanning over three years. It is notable that three of these prison sentences were related to unsafe acts and conditions with no injuries, demonstrating that severe penalties can be issued based on a potential for harm alone.
Commonly identified issues across February’s cases include:
- A lack of suitable and safe systems of work
- Provision of improper training and information
- Inadequate protective measures and supervision
It is crucial that any training, instruction, or information provided to your employees is sufficient for the task at hand. By making a dedicated effort towards employee supervision and training, you are significantly more likely to reduce the risk of harm in the workplace and avoid the costly consequences.
Significant average fine increase
February marked five years since the initial implementation of new sentencing guidelines for health and safety, titled The Sentencing Council’s Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety & Hygiene Definitive Guideline. During this time, the average fine issued by courts has increased by £50,000 to £100,000, with total fines exceeding £1million. This has played a pivotal role in ensuring that companies are financially and reputationally driven to minimise the risk of injury and death at work.
Despite this, over 100 people lose their life every year due to an injury or illness sustained at work. While the number of deaths in 2020 dropped significantly from 147 (in 2015) to 111, it should be considered that this is likely a result of Covid-19 restrictions, meaning less people have been at work or have carried out higher risk activities.
AHR Consultants have an extensive portfolio of health and safety training courses, each ensuring that your employees have the knowledge to do their jobs safely. We can also act as your competent person and provide onsite risk assessments, giving you peace of mind when it comes to protecting your business.