The term non-compliance is defined as ‘not obeying a rule or doing what was asked’, which on the face of it seems relatively harmless, however when it comes to health and safety the impact of ‘not obeying a rule’ can be severe and can lead to serious injuries or death. This is why the governance around health and safety regulations are so stringent.
On the issue of health and safety in your workplace, ensuring the safety of your employee’s and your businesses compliance is non-negotiable. It is an employer’s responsibility to protect their employees. Businesses and business owners will pay the price when health and safety regulations are not adhered to, from financial penalties to disqualification, while employees are put at serious risk of injury or worse.
To begin with HSE only have the power to issue a notice of improvement or prohibition to a business that has breached health and safety legislation. The repercussions can be substantial – leaving businesses open to fines of up to £20,000 for a basic breach in regulations. These fines can become even more substantial as the situation worsens. For example, non-compliance that leads to the endangerment of human lives can result in unlimited fines and even time in prison.
A recent incident at a logistics company in the UK, where workers were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, serves as an illustration of this. Due to several health and safety violations, the company was fined £133,000. The company failed to identify, control or report a possible risk of their employees being exposed to dangerous materials. A business that has failed to follow the correct health and safety procedures can leave themselves defenceless against claims being made by their own employees, and subcontractors.
Injuries and ill-health in the UK construction industry are now costing upwards of £16.2bn per year, an analysis of data has revealed, not to mention the lack of productivity costs on site when people are unable to work to their full capabilities due to sickness or incorrect protection.
As well as taking a financial hit from unsafe procedures, not following the correct health and safety regulations could lead to disqualification. A disqualification order has effect without permission from the courts, and a person with a disqualification cannot:
- act as a director of a company
- take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- be a receiver of a company’s property.
Prosecutions made by the HSE have a 94% conviction rate. With such high figures it seems that no company is to be let off lightly when posing health and safety risk to employees. Dave Elliott, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:
The quote was obtained after a construction company breached health and safety regulations and sent the company into liquidation as an alternative to paying an unaffordable fine of £274,671. This left the owner of this company been banned from becoming directly or indirectly involved in any other promotion, formation or management of a company for 6 years.
According to the HSE there are over 120 workplace fatalities each year, and a quarter of these arise from the construction sector with a further 18% coming from agriculture. Although non-compliance does not make up the whole of these figures, it is certainly a high contributor. According to a recent report there is still an astonishing amount of UK construction businesses failing to comply with regulations and displaying compliance as an issue. Business owners are struggling to correctly deal with health and safety issues leading to the potential injury or death of a worker – which poses great ramifications for employers involved. In one case a glazing company was fined £200,000 for the death of an employee – which was caused by health and safety negligence. In some circumstances these fines have reached £2.6 million and prison sentences.
How can your business avoid these consequences and remain compliant?
It is no secret that construction sites rank as one of the most hazardous places to work. By ensuring that you comply with health and safety regulations you will be able to minimise the risks, reducing the threats to your employees and your business.
By ensuring employees are fit for work and by having up to date safety critical tests in place, accidents and injuries can be avoided. By implementing ongoing health assessments and medicals tests, early indicators of long-term illness or conditions that affect their ability to work safely and effectively can be identified.
Latus health provides a range of occupational health services (including Safety Critical Medicals, Health Surveillance & New Starter Medicals) designed to support businesses to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees and to stay legally compliant.