Comply With Health and Safety Rules or Else…

| General


Approaching mid-February 2023 a Cheshire-based business that specializes in the provision of architectural and construction services entered admissions in the South Cheshire Magistrates Court regarding violations of health and safety rules. The shortfalls were so significant that the Magistrates imposed financial sanctions on the building and architecture business in the amount of twenty thousand pounds. 

What Happened In The Case?

It centered around a building project involving building work transforming premises from banking services to offices. The HSA brought the proceedings based on discoveries made during a visit to the working environment the business operated. During the inspection of the working environment, it discovered safety shortcomings including:

  • potential for the workforce to fall from height 
  • insufficient provision of services catering to workforce wellbeing and
  • the possible vulnerability of staff to dangerous materials.   

It was not as though the business had not been given time to improve from an HSE perspective. 

To understand the reasoning behind why the industry regulator investigated the circumstances surrounding the case one must step back and look at it from a historical perspective. When you do so it becomes plain that such shortcomings could not be described as breaking news to the business because it had faced an HSE investigation some time ago whereby the industry regulator had sought to highlight the risky working practices being carried out in the working environment.

A person acting in his capacity as a manager at the site was also singled out for stinging criticism due to how he had behaved in neglecting to safeguard the welfare of the workforce. It seems as though the HSE had some significant misgivings regarding the business as it had neglected to repair the issues identified and matters appear to have nosedived. The Regulator had handed down a total of three Notices which were to stop the business from conducting itself in this manner and five corrective Notices obligating the business to pull their socks up on Health and Safety. However, this was to no avail and in October 2020 further safety violations were discovered.               

Feet to the Fire?

The justice system finally caught up with the business in February 2023 in the Magistrates Court. Presented with overwhelming evidence collected as part of its investigation by the business itself, a person from the male demographic and acting in his capacity as a business director both felt they had no alternative open to them but to enter admissions to the allegations. The director was handed down a criminal conviction in respect of his violation of section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This piece of legislation holds those acting in a directorship capacity in corporate bodies accountable if the business they represent violates its criminal law obligations. This was primarily the case here because the evidence strongly suggested that the business had fallen short in terms of its health and safety accountabilities. The business also entered admissions for contravening section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 as the Magistrates imposed a small financial sanction on the director and one in the amount of twenty thousand pounds on the business.        

Lessons Learned?

The regulator highlighted the importance of managing such risks to a high standard and in this regard legal professionals should be advising business clients to:

  • professionally oversee the working environment
  • comply with its obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • follow the direction set by the HSE and
  • remember that the HSE will quickly swoop if standards slip.   

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 £20,000 for health and safety failings at a building site in Alderley Edge – 10th February 2023 - Company fined £20,000 for health and safety failings at a building site in Alderley Edge | HSE Media Centre

[SOURCE 2] Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 

[SOURCE 3] Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 

[SOURCE 4] Health and Safety Executive – Health and safety in roof work – Health and safety in roof work (hse.gov.uk) 

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