Stafford Crown Court Imposed a Significant Financial Sanction

| General


In late January 2023, the Stafford Crown Court imposed a significant financial sanction on a pallet services business following an event whereby a member of the workforce sustained significant injuries caused by a two thousand pound pallet of glass falling onto his person. Thankfully the person survived. However, he must now take numerous life-preserving medical treatments and suffers disabilities to his neck having fractured it in five locations. After the conviction, Stafford Crown Court handed down a sanction in the amount of one hundred thousand pounds.    

What Happened In The Case?

The circumstances surrounding the incident appear to date back to 2016 and center around an accident that took place at a business premises located in the town of Lichfield. When the case was heard in the Stafford Crown Court it emerged that on 30th September 2016 a wagon holding a four-pallet shipment of glass had been delivered to the business. All appeared to be progressing well until matters took an unfortunate turn for the worse when during the journey transporting the pallet containing the glass moved and fell onto a colleague causing significant injuries for which he will need lifelong medical treatment to manage. The event has had serious consequences on the member of the workforce, his family, and his employer because the injuries were so severe that he has not been able to carry out any work-related activities after the incident and has had implications for his spouse as she resigned from her job role to provide him with care.       

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

Due to the seriousness of the events which had taken place industry regulator the Health and Safety Executive launched a probe into what had happened and when it did so it uncovered evidence that seemed to suggest that the pallet company had deficiencies present within it and members of the workforce were not notified of its being in place. The regulator also found that the pallet company had neglected its duties to empower the members of the workforce to deal with day-to-day activities of this nature and reduce the risk of future incidents from taking place by the provision of educational training courses on how to manage pallet shipments of this kind.    

Feet to the Fire?

The HSE found that the business specializing in the provision of pallet services had violated health and safety requirements in several respects and initiated criminal proceedings in the Stafford Crown Court. When the evidence of the breaches of the company’s legal obligations was presented to representatives for the business it openly admitted to breaches of section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This imposes obligations on businesses who are tasked with employing the workforce to do all they reasonably can to safeguard health and safety whilst in the working environment. The judge appears to have taken the case extremely seriously, carefully considered the evidence, and wanted to strike a balance between punishing the business for its criminal failings from a health and safety perspective and persuading future persons operating in the industry that it may be unwise to conduct its business affairs similarly in future by handed down restrictive financial sanctions in an amount over one hundred thousand pounds.  

Lessons Learned?

Legal representatives advising those responsible for businesses providing similar pallet services should comply with their health and safety obligations in this area by:

  • safeguarding the health and safety of its workforce
  • implementing sufficient systems dealing with large shipments of pallets 
  • communicating with members of the workforce and
  • organizing training for colleagues on pallet management, loading, and unloading especially where glass is present.  

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 – Man left permanently disabled after being crushed by a tonne of glass – 23rd January 2023 - Man left permanently disabled after being crushed by a tonne of glass | HSE Media Centre

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

[SOURCE 3] HSE – Safe driving: loading & unloading  - HSE -. Loading & unloading Vehicles safely (hse.gov.uk)

[SOURCE 4] HSE – Safety in the handling of flat glass – OC687/5 8 June 1993 - OC 687/5: Safety in the handling of flat glass (hse.gov.uk)

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