Each month we highlight the current focus of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections and provide a summary of key prosecutions from the previous month.
Despite Covid-19 restrictions being removed in England, businesses must remember that Covid-secure workplace inspections are continuing, with the need for sufficient ventilation, cleaning, and hygiene remaining unchanged.
Protecting respiratory health before it’s too late
While Covid-security continues to be a priority for the HSE, a significant proportion of their attention is also being devoted to preventing occupational lung disease.
Businesses with employees who carry out welding, or use of metalworking fluids, should be aware that HSE inspectors are visiting sites across Britain to ensure that respiratory health is receiving adequate protection.
This involves checking whether the risks of inhaling fumes have been considered and clearly reflected in any control measures within the workplace. Failure to do this can lead not only to fines and potential imprisonment for duty-holders, but also the possibility of causing a life-threatening illness for employees.
Rather than taking these risks, we recommend that all affected businesses visit the HSE’s resource pages for preventing occupational lung disease. This includes a helpful video case study which showcases the control measures deemed adequate from the HSE’s perspective.
After reviewing these resources, you can also contact us to receive tailored guidance on how to prevent injury and illness in your workplace.
12-month prison sentence issued despite no injuries occurring
Throughout August, prosecutions covered separate incidents involving one fatality and seven significant injuries or ill health incidents. Overall, this led to over £370,000 in fines being paid by employers, with one gas fitter being sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence for an incident where no injuries were sustained.
This incident occurred within a residential care home, with the gas fitter installing a new cooking appliance without being qualified to do so. An investigation later found that his attempt at installation had caused a gas leak, with HSE investigators stating that “the lives of vulnerable people have been put at real risk of fire and explosion”.
In another incident, a manufacturing company received a £100,000 fine after a delivery driver was struck by a reversing lorry, leading to significant leg injuries. After investigation, this was attributed to inadequate control measures on the manufacturing site.
Both of these examples highlight the severity of punishments for any safety incident, regardless of whether they have caused an injury or not.
Other incidents throughout the month were caused by:
- Unsuitable risk assessments
- No safe systems of work
- Poor training
- Inadequate protective measures, including barriers and guarding
- Insufficient supervision
How confident are you of your health and safety arrangements? Who is your Competent Person? Can you demonstrate their competence? If not, or you need support, why not call us today on 0345 076 2288 or submit a question using the form below.
This article was written by Akinjide Ajisafe, who is a H&S Consultant and Fire Risk Assessor in our team of health and safety experts.