Regulatory Roundup

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09 April, 2018

Health & Safety Fine for Tree Climbing Fall

Center Parcs UK has received a £250,000 fine and ordered to pay costs of £14,000 after an eight-year-old child fell from a tree and broke her wrist.

The child was participating in an organised tree climbing class. Prior to the activity each child ought to have been fitted with a harness and clipped to the fall-arrest system. One child started to climb before she had been clipped to the fall arrest system and fell from a height of over 3 metres.

Center Parcs pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Luton Crown Court on 13 March 2018 after the investigation reportedly found inadequate risk assessments, an unsafe system of work and inadequate monitoring of work.

Forbes comment

We understand that Center Parcs has since amended its operating procedures. This case however demonstrates that there are serious consequences for organisations if health and safety laws are breached; not only was a child injured, the company received a huge fine and damage to its reputation. It is crucial that operators of dangerous activities such as tree climbing have stringent protective health and safety procedures in place, including risk assessments.

Tata Steel fined £1.4m after death of worker

Tata Steel has been fined over £1.4 million after the tragic death of 26-year-old maintenance electrician. The electrician was fatally crushed whilst inspecting a crane as part of his duties. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 and Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that despite two similar previous incidents, Tata Steel had failed to enforce its own safety procedures, or implement essential control measures.

Forbes comment

The Judge expressed concern at Tata Steel's "shameful record". The fine represents the 31st time the company and its predecessor Corus have received health and safety fines. The significant fine imposed was calculated in accordance with the Corporate Sentencing Guidelines.

Poundstretcher Fined Over £1m After Pleading Guilty to 24 Heath and Safety Offences

Health and safety breaches uncovered at three different Poundstretcher stores has resulted in the Court imposing fines totalling over a million pounds. A number of inspections by three different local authorities reportedly found storerooms in unsatisfactory and unsafe conditions, with stock piled high and exits blocked.

Forbes comment

At the sentencing hearing, the Judge was critical of the higher management who ought to have ensured that the local management was in place and performing to a "proper standard". The Judge also highlighted the importance of staff training.

Contractors Fined After Tenant Falls through Balcony

Two construction firms have been fined a total of £1.1m for breaching reg.22(1)(1) the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and reg.4(1)(a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 following an accident in which a tenant fell through a balcony walkway during refurbishment.

The tenant fell 5.5m through a fragile cement sheet walkway and sustained serious injuries whilst gaining access to her flat. The walkway was the tenant's sole access to her flat and, although construction workers had been working on it for the previous four days, the tenant had not been informed of the work or of any associated risks, nor were there any barriers or warning signs to prevent her from stepping into the balcony walkway.

According to the HSE, it was only after the incident in 2015 that the companies put sufficient steps in place to protect workers and members of the public from falling from height.

Forbes comment

This accident could easily have been avoided if the two companies involved had planned the work and implemented common sense and straightforward health and safety practices. Once again the level of the fine reflects the seriousness of the breach.

Housing association fined after exposing employees to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

A community housing association has been fined £30,000 for failing to manage its employees' exposure to HAVS over a prolonged period of time.

Between July 2010 and May 2015, employees of Tai Calon Community Housing Limited were routinely exposed to vibration in their day to day work. Following the company's introduction of health surveillance in May 2015, a number of employees were diagnosed with HAVS.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found Tai Calon "failed to adequately assess the risk to employees from the use of vibratory tools, failed to implement adequate measures to reduce employees' exposure to vibration, failed to place employees under suitable health surveillance and failed to provide employees with suitable information, instruction, and training".

Forbes comment

This case highlights the importance of health surveillance. Employees who might be exposed to hand arm vibration syndrome ought to be monitored to detect work-related ill health at an early stage.

Unregistered Gas Fitter Jailed

An unregistered gas fitter has been sentenced to a 12-month custodial sentence for carrying out gas work without being registered with Gas Safe Register.

Mr Stevens undertook gas work at two properties between 2015 and 2016 when he was served with a prohibition notice on 9 February 2016. According to the Health and Safety Executive an investigation found that Mr Stevens was not Gas Safe registered at the time he conducted this work and the work he carried out at one of the properties may have been a potential danger to life or property.

Forbes comment

The prison sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of Mr Steven's actions. Only engineers on the Gas Safe Register are qualified to work legally on gas appliances.

For further advice on any of the regulatory issues raised in this roundup contact our Regulatory Team, please contact Ridwaan Omar by email or call 01254 662831.

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