Business Sanctioned After Member of Workforce Breaks Rib

| General


In later January 2023 Teesside Magistrates Court imposed a monetary sanction on a copper castings organisation in connection with an incident whereby a workforce member sustained a fractured one of his ribs as a direct result of falling into a mould pit. It neglected to comply with its legal obligations. The magistrates handed down a financial sanction in the amount of over twenty-five thousand pounds. 

What Happened In The Case?

The accident occurred at the business premises when the person at the centre of proceedings was opening up the premises ahead of working that day. The workplace was dark and visibility was poor. The member of the workforce made his way across the working premises to find the light switch to provide light for the workplace. However, matters deteriorated when a member of the workforce went off course and fell into a mould pit fracturing a rib.   

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

The Health and Safety Executive identified the shortfalls related to health and safety violations and discovered evidence that the business had not conducted a sufficient risk assessment regarding the mould pit. It found that there was nothing in place covering the pit which prevented colleagues or the public from falling in. The HSE examined the historical context and found that this was not an isolated incident. It discovered evidence that the copper castings business had received a Notification of Contravention from the HSE in 2018 which obliged the organisation to upgrade the safety features surrounding the moulding pit. In response to this Notification of Contravention the business had made great strides to further its compliance with it and in this regard had put in place safeguarding measures to keep members of the workforce and the public safe. However, the regulator discovered that this safeguarding had been taken away because the business was using significantly bigger moulds. This Notification of Contravention from the regulator was not the end of the matter as there was in fact evidence which appeared to indicate that in August 2021 a member of the workforce had fallen into a mould pit under the control of the organisation. However, no persons sustained any serious injuries in the accident.        

Feet to the Fire?

Following on from its investigation into the latest accident by the Health and Safety Executive in which a member of the workforce fell into the mould pit whilst trying in vain to find a light switch in the working environment the Magistrates Court in Teesside imposed criminal charges. When representatives from the business had their feet held to the fire In front of the justices and looked at the evidence in front of it, it held its hands up and admitted to violations of health and safety regulations under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which obliges businesses employing members of the workforce to do all they reasonably can do to safeguard the health and safety of such persons whilst in the working environment. As a result, the regulator imposed financial sanctions in the amount of approximately thirty thousand pounds.    

Lessons Learned?

Businesses with similar pit areas need to be mitigating the risk of workforce members falling in by doing all they reasonably can to safeguard the safety of such persons. They should be considering:

  • identifying if are any dangers in the area 
  • assessing whether these risks are visible and
  • check whether the current state the environment is in may reasonably and foreseeably be likely to result in similar injuries being sustained in future.   

ASSESSING FIRMS

#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP #RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Health and Safety Executive – Company fined after worker breaks rib falling into a pit – 24th January 2023 - Company fined after worker breaks rib falling into pit | HSE Media Centre

[SOURCE 2] Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 - Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (legislation.gov.uk)

[SOURCE 3] HSE – Protecting the public - Public protection - construction industry health & safety (hse.gov.uk)

[SOURCE 4] HSE – Firm find after blind man falls into an open manhole – 15 December 2022 - Firm fined after blind man falls into open manhole | HSE Media Centre

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