16 December, 2019

Keep safe

28 April, 2016

Within various manufacturing and engineering disciplines, as with many other professional pursuits, there are situations where the possibility of injury, or even death, increases. When working at height, it is of course important to adhere to a series of measures to ensure as best as possible that an unfortunate incident doesn’t occur. These measures should include, among other things, a general risk assessment based on the precise environment, equipment and circumstances involved, appropriate supervision, ensuring the work is only undertaken by trained personnel, and making sure that only regularly maintained equipment that is fit for the task is used.

Similarly, when using, testing or maintaining hydraulic hoses, it is critical that you are aware of any possible risk of fluid injection injury and take precautionary measures to avoid such an occurrence. When using pneumatic drills it is important to be aware of the risks associated with vibration white finger etc. In loud environments, suitable hearing protection should be employed, and in hazardous atmospheres appropriate respiratory equipment should be worn. And of course there are many other examples of possible hazards in the workplace and what measures and practices should put in place to avoid harm to you or your workforce.

Now, this type of health & safety regime has been given even more importance by the Government; at least vis-à-vis the penalties employers are likely to face in the event of an incident where they are found culpable. In essence, the cost of breaking the law just went up. As of 1 February 2016 Crown Courts and Magistrates Courts in England and Wales have been bound by tough new guidelines when sentencing offenders who have been convicted of breaking health & safety law. For the first time courts in England and Wales are now required to follow comprehensive sentencing guidelines.

Neal Stone, policy and standards director at the British Safety Council, said: “We broadly welcome the new guidelines and in particular that in future that three factors will be key in determining fines for health & safety offences: the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender, and; the turnover of the offending organisation. Having consulted our members we were able to say in response to the Sentencing Council’s proposals that there was overwhelming support for this change which would help ensure greater consistency in the sentencing practice of our courts and a level of fines that fit the crime.”

Stone added that this change is specifically in relation to the level of fines imposed and in certain cases the use of imprisonment as a sanction. “What is clear is that the courts have on occasions failed to properly take into account the seriousness of the offence in weighing up the appropriate penalty,” he said, pointing out that, to date, the largest fine imposed in Great Britain for a health and safety offence – £15 million – was on Transco in 2005. If employers don’t adhere to a rigorous health & safety policy even a figure of this magnitude could be outdone.

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