Health and Safety Fines:
In the UK, health and safety is taken very seriously and companies who do not meet their obligations under Health and Safety Law can face some heavy fines. In this article, we will be taking a look at the 10 largest fines handed out in 2021.
10. BAM Nuttall: £700k
BAM Nuttall was fined £700,000 after a man was run over and killed by a dumper truck on site. John Cameron was repairing equipment at the roadside at Blackhillock Substation in Keith, Scotland, on 28 October 2016 when he was run over by a six-tonne dumper truck.
An investigation by HSE found that BAM Nuttall Limited failed to adequately assess the risks to their employees while they were repairing and replacing equipment. The firm didn’t have a system in place to segregate people from vehicles and allow safe maintenance.
BAM Nuttall Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 and 33(1)(a) of the HSWA 1974 and were fined £700,000 after a hearing at Inverness Sheriff Court.
9. Young’s Seafood: £797.5k
Grimsby’s biggest employer, Young’s Seafood, who employs more than 2,000 people in Grimsby, was fined £787,500 after worker’s thumb and two fingers were severed while operating the machine at plan.
A 59-year-old man was making fishcakes at the factory on Humberstone Road in Grimsby on 16 October 2017. When the member of staff lifted a guard to clean, this should have stopped the machine from running, instead it continued to run and did not even respond to the emergency stop button being used.
Young’s Seafood was fined £787,500 for breaching Section 2 of the HSWA and told to pay £33,443.68 costs.
The member of staff was not able to work following the incident in October 2017, but has since returned to work for the firm.
8. Egger (UK) Limited: £910k
Egger (UK) was fined £910,000 over an incident in 2017 where a self-employed lorry driver was killed making a routine delivery of recycled wood at its Auchinleck site in Scotland.
The driver, who was standing at the rear of his vehicle, was struck by a wheeled shovel loader that was in operation in the yard. The HSE found that the company had failed to conduct sufficient risk assessments for workplace transport.
“This resulted in a failure to identify that pedestrians, including delivery drivers, were at risk of being struck by moving vehicles in the yard, despite the high level of vehicle movements and previous near misses,” the HSE added.
Egger (UK) pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974.
7. Drayton Manor Park: £1m
The former operators of Drayton Manor theme park have been fined £1m for safety failings that led to the death of a schoolgirl on its water rapids ride.
During a school trip in May 2017 eleven-year-old Evha Jannath was on the Splash Canyon rapids ride at Drayton Manor where she was propelled from the ride and into the water. An investigation by HSE found the risk assessment in place was not suitable as it did not properly assess or address the risk of passengers being ejected/falling from the raft, despite previous similar incidents.
Drayton Manor had admitted breaching section 3 of HSWA after HSE brought a prosecution against the park. Drayton Manor Park Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) and was fined £1 million.
6. Enterprise Managed Services: £1m
A company owned by Amey, which formerly managed waste collection for Daventry and Northampton District councils, was fined £1m after a refuse collector was killed under his own bin lorry.
Twenty two-year-old Kane Beard was part of a four-person crew working in Ashby Road in the town, when the accident happened on 8 April 2016. He died from head injuries after falling under the lorry. The HSE investigation found that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had not been carried out for their collection route and there was a failure to adequately supervise the Daventry waste and recycling round.
Enterprise Managed Services pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974. The company was fined £1,020,000 and ordered to pay legal costs of £60,476.
5. Aster Healthcare Ltd: £1m
The owners of a care home in Bracknell and their negligence caused the death of a 93-year-old woman after she was placed in a bath of scalding hot water. Frances Norris, died three days after the incident in hospital where it was found 12% of her body was covered in serious burns.
Home manager Elisabeth West and carer Noel Maida were given a jail term, suspended for 18 months. Both had previously pleaded guilty to failure to discharge a duty. The company pleaded guilty to one count of corporate manslaughter contrary to section 1(1) of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 200
The home was fined £1m for the actions of its employees.
4. EPUT: £1.5m
Essex NHS Mental Health Trust were fined £1.5m over the deaths of 11 patients between 2004 and 2015. An investigation by HSE into the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) looked at how it managed environmental risks in its inpatient wards. The HSE found that a variety of failings led to the trust’s failure to ‘prevent suicides’.
EPUT had pleaded guilty in November to an offence under HSWA 1974. Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew died while in the care of the Linden Centre in Chelmsford in 2012, said: “While I welcome the fine handed down against EPUT, it merely represents a slap on the wrist for a Trust that has failed and continues to fail countless families across Essex.
3. British Airways: £1.8m
British Airways (BA) was fined £1.8 million after an employee incident in the baggage hall at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5.
On 16 March 2018, an employee was struck by a tug pulling a train of dollies (vehicles used to transport baggage around the airport). She was knocked under another passing tug with dollies loaded with luggage. She sustained serious crush injuries.
Southwark Crown Court was told that following the vehicle collision at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport, the accident investigation discovered that this unsafe practice had been commonplace in the baggage hall for at least 10 years. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators identified significant failings in the general management of health and safety and workplace transport risks (HSWA / 2 / 1).
2. National Grid: £4m
The second largest health and safety fine in 2021 was handed to the National Grid. The energy giant was hit with a penalty for passing on incomplete records for hundreds of properties, which resulted in routine safety inspections not taking place.
In 2017 when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requested information from gas distribution network companies about their management of gas networks, they found that when the National Grid sold part of its operation to Cadent Gas in 2016, the records of 769 buildings were not transferred.
On 9 February 2021, Liverpool Crown Court imposed a fine of £4 million and prosecution costs of £91,805 on National Grid Gas plc, following a guilty plea to section 3(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1997 (“HSWA 1974”).
1. W.H. Malcolm: £6.5m
The highest value fine issued by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2021 was given to rail operator W.H Malcolm following the death of an 11 year-old boy at the freight terminal.
In June 2017 Harrison Ballantyle died after he easily gained access into the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal to retrieve a football and was able to climb on top of the stationary freight wagon where he received a fatal electric shock from the overhead line.
W.H Malcolm was found guilty for two offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR). In addition to the £6.5m fine the company was made to pay £241,4163 in prosecution costs. Ian Prosser, Chief Inspector of Railways said: ” The railway industry has done some excellent work in preventing trespass and educating children about the risks, but this case serves as a reminder that should access to the railway not be properly controlled, serious events like this occur.”
The key takeaways from these fines:
Whilst the HSE fines listed above all related to different scenarios, there are a host of things companies can learn from them. These include:
- Make sure that your organisation has a strong and regularly updated health safety policy
- Ensure you have suitable, sufficient and robust risk assessments / safe systems of work for all equipment used
- Never allow the use of any work equipment without proper training or authorisation
- Appoint a health and safety officer / advisor to make sure that effective health and safety measures are in place, this can be in-house or external
- Regular, recorded inspections of work equipment and plants must be completed by a competent person
- Create a reporting system so that health and safety issues can be addressed as swiftly as possible
If you need any further advice in relation to anything raised in this article, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.