Huge fines for fatal construction accidents
2 mins read

Huge fines for fatal construction accidents

Those following safety news will be aware that sentencing guidelines for occupational health and safety offences were reviewed and updated back in 2016.

The Sentencing Council guidelines introduced three key factors in setting fines: the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender and the turnover of the organisation committing the offence. Courts were now empowered to consider aggravating factors, such as cost-cutting at the expense of safety, in addition to mitigating factors, such as a previous good health and safety record.

Tougher penalties have been introduced for serious crimes because in the past some offenders did not receive fines that adequately reflected the offences they committed.

In 2016 alone, nineteen companies were fined £1 million or more (the highest was £5 million), compared to just three in 2015 and none in 2014. Although the frequency of these fines may appear to be decreasing in subsequent years, two recent fines show that the costs of failing to comply with health and safety regulations are still very high and are in line with the costs following the introduction of new guidance.

In the first case, construction giant BAM Nutall admitted breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 following a fatal accident in Leeds in October 2017. The company was fined £2.345m and ordered to pay £25,770 in costs at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on 12 June 2024.

In the second case, also due to be heard in June 2024, chemicals giant Tata was fined £1.125m and ordered to pay £60,603.54 in costs following a fatal incident where a scaffolder fell into a trough of calcium hydroxide, leaving the injured man tragically dead from complications just over 12 months later.

Speaking about the incidents and the resulting fines, Dallas Cooper, Scaffold Safety Advisor at SIMIAN, said:

“The simple truth is that tragic incidents like these are easily preventable with proper planning, good communication and good levels of supervision. The costs associated with implementing the required levels of control very often pale in comparison to the fines that courts now have the power to impose. Quite apart from the tragic human consequences of workplace incidents, a good safety record is not only the right ethical approach, it is also the right thing to do to protect business.”

Our experienced, qualified H&S scaffolding consultants can help implement the required training and protective measures needed on site to prevent incidents of this type. Call 0345 602 2418 or visit this page for more information on our scaffolding support services, which are available to both specifiers and scaffolding contractors.

Huge fines for fatal construction accidents