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Safety still major concern for construction industry as fines rocket

Posted on 11/05/2017 by Lee Hiskett

safety in the plant and tool hire industry

Fines for health and safety breaches in construction have now hit £14 million which has exceeded that of manufacturing. Four construction companies were fined over £1 million in 2016 with Balfour Beatty Utility being hit the hardest with £2.6 million last May after a worker died as a result of a trench collapse.

Research conducted has shown that 87 offenses committed by construction firms from January 2016 onwards made up almost a third of all health and safety fines that were issued.

Fines have been increased dramatically since February 2016 in an effort to reduce health and safety breaches from occurring.

Now we can be looking at seeing fines of up to £10 million for health and safety offences and double that for corporate manslaughter.

These new fine levels are now commensurate with the size of business and reflects historic concerns that fines were, in some cases too proportionately low for the offences they related to.

We may well be looking at seeing fines of over £10 million come into play in 2017.

Sadly a lot of these health and safety breaches could easily have been avoided like the 2 examples below one of which resulted in a fatality and the other a near miss

A building company in Fife was fined after a nine foot deep trench wall collapsed burying a worker who suffered a broken shoulder and collarbone, punctures to both lungs and all ribs broken except 2. Had this been risk assessed it would have been highlighted that nobody onsite had any format safety training for construction site operation/management and that the walls of the trench should have been reinforced prior to any ingress of personnel.

The second and more serious offence resulted in the death of a passer-by when large heavy window frames were left unsecured leaning against a wall, at height on a windy day. The frames subsequently fell to the ground hitting Amanda Telfer who was passing below. Kelvin Adsett of IS Europe Ltd was found guilty and sentenced to 12 months in prison, the company should have been fined £100,000 but it was found the company was dormant and only had £250 in its bank account. Damian Lakin-Hall was the site manager who received a 6 month suspended sentence after being found guilty of failing to ensure adequate health and safety care was carried out. The CPS concluded that the conduct of the 2 men was so bad that those involved bore criminal responsibility for Ms Telfer's tragic death.