Time to come clean over health and safety

Time to come clean over health and safety

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Shropshire companies have been warned they could be forced to come clean in public about their health and safety failures following a recent court case.

Tony Conlon leads the health and safety team at Henshalls Insurance Brokers in Newport and Shrewsbury, and said a building firm had been the latest company to face the “naming and shaming” rule.

conlon
Tony Conlon

“The ruling came after a building firm and its owner pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work act when an employee fell through an unguarded skylight to his death.

“For the corporate manslaughter offence, the company received a £200,000 fine, and for the Health and Safety at Work offence, an additional £20,000 fine.

“The company owner also pleaded guilty and was given an eight-month prison sentence (suspended for two years) and 200 hours of unpaid work.

“But perhaps the most damaging sanction they received was that they were forced to advertise what happened on their company website, and take out a half-page spread in the local newspaper to publicise the court’s decision, as well as paying costs of over £30,000.

“This is a damning result as it meant the company could not simply pay the fines and brush the case under the carpet – their actions and their fate were publicised for all to see.”

The court heard that the employee died because the company that employed him did nothing to make sure he was safe while he worked on a fragile roof.

And the Health and Safety Executive’s investigating officer said if scaffolding or netting had been fitted under the fragile roof panels, or covers had been fitted over them, the fatal accident would not have happened.

“Companies need to recognise the risks and take appropriate measures to protect their employees, wherever they may be working, if cases like this are to be prevented in the future,” said Tony.

“And it’s vital that businesses take this case – and the penalties given out – as a warning as the requirement to publicise the exact circumstances and the court’s decision could prove extremely damaging to a company’s ongoing reputation.”