How New Sentencing Guidelines Can Keep the Construction Industry Safe

How New Sentencing Guidelines Can Keep the Construction Industry Safe

22nd April 2016

Earlier this year we brought you news of the new, tougher sentencing guidelines that came into force in February, 2016 and today we’re taking a look at how this has changed things for businesses in the construction industry.  The new guidelines direct the courts to take a step by step approach when considering the sentencing of offending organisations.  The courts first consider culpability, the seriousness of the harm risked and the likelihood of harm.  These are divided into a number of different levels to reflect the scale within each category.  The guidelines then require that the courts assess the offending company’s turnover when setting a starting point for a fine with the aim of bringing the message home “to the directors and shareholders of offending organisations”. 

Most of the other sentencing steps involve the consideration of increasing or decreasing the level of the fine according to a number of factors and there are similar guidelines for sentencing individuals for health and safety offences which focus on the risk of a custodial sentence for anybody found guilty of a serious breach.

For those of us in the construction industry, these tougher guidelines are welcome – after all this is one of the most risky sectors in which to work, despite the UK’s stringent health and safety legislation.  The people most at risk are those who work at height – whether on ladders, scaffolding or other types of access equipment.  Keeping workers safe must be a priority at all times and there is equipment available that is suitable for all types of work at height. 

Construction firm owners or managers need to take on board that using a safety ladder when a plant platform would represent the safest way to gain access is a mistake that may cost lives, livelihoods and, ultimately, the freedom of the person responsible for overseeing the job.  Providing workers with extra methods of protection, such as fall protection posts and personal protective equipment (PPE) may seem like an expensive proposition but it’s not as costly as the fines that could be faced should an accident occur.

Buyers in the construction industry should also be aware that the access equipment used should bear the CE Marking that proves that it’s been fabricated by a CE Approved Fabricator.  This means that the steel or aluminium used to manufacture the equipment is of the highest standard and meets the relevant European Standard.  We’ve already covered the CE Marking process in detail and given some tips on how to spot fake CE Markings.

Here at Safety Fabrications we take our business seriously, including the health and safety considerations necessary and we’re proud that all of our products are manufactured in accordance with BS EN ISO 3834-2:2005 and BS EN 1090-2:2008 which enable us to use the CE Marking that is mandatory nowadays.  This means that buyers in the construction industry can rest assured that all of our products are safe to use and fit for purpose – a vital issue when it comes to avoiding the tough new sentencing guidelines.