A Clear Case Demonstrating the Impact of New Sentencing Guidelines

A Clear Case Demonstrating the Impact of New Sentencing Guidelines

12th December 2016

Safety Fabrications, we’re determined to readers informed with happenings in the construction industry, after all, manufacturing safety ladders and safe access equipment is what we’re all about! We brought you news about the new sentencing guidelines with tips on how to comply and avoid fines.  We’ve made sure to keep our fingers on the pulse since then with an update a couple of weeks after the guidelines were implemented followed by news of some of the heavy fines being handed out to company directors and managers prosecuted by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

We’ve now come across a pretty powerful demonstration of the impact of the new sentencing guidelines in a case which has seen a Burger King franchisee being fined a total of £166.600 for two identical breaches of health and safety regulations.  On the one hand the fine totalled £13.300 which a similar breach after the introduction of the sentencing guidelines saw the same franchisee being fine a massive £153,360 for a second similar breach of the regulations.  We’re going to take a closer look at the two cases, because the two fines are so different in value. 

The company which runs 35 Burger King franchises was sentenced last week after a 21 year old worker was scalded with boiling oil in March 2015.  The worker was emptying oil from three of the fat fryers which involved emptying oil into an open bucket, then carrying each load up some metal and concrete stairs to the disposal area.  While carrying the oil in a metal bucket up the stairs, some oil spilled onto the worker’s feet, burning him and causing him to drop the bucket.  When the case was investigated it was discovered that there were several breaches of regulations:

·         No site specific risk assessment to identify extra hazards (such as the necessity of transporting oil in buckets via metal steps) had been logged

·         The oil was transferred without waiting until if had cooled to below 40°C

·         The metal bucket did not have a lid

·         The personal protective equipment (PPE) provided was too large for staff to use

·         HSE guidance was not followed.

The Court ruled that other staff were put at risk by the oil on the stairs when they helped the injured worker who was off work for more than a month as a result of his injuries. 

Due to a legal technicality, the company was charged with b reaching the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSAW 1974) twice, with the 12th March (when the new sentencing guidelines came into effect) being a crucial date in the case.

The fine for the breach of before 12th March was £13,300 whilst the fine for the breach after 12th March was £153,360.  This clearly shows the changes brought about by the new sentencing guidelines.  This was a very serious case, but one that could have easily been avoided had sufficient attention been paid to health and safety and complying with regulations designed to protect staff in the workplace.