« Errare humanum est » but when it’s about your employees’ health and safety, it is your responsibility to make your H&S policies robust and reliable.
Recently sentencing for health and safety offences has got tougher and depends on the seriousness of the injury and the turnover of the company.
Previously H&S law didn’t take into account the financial status of the offender, so very small companies were punished as much as very large ones in terms of the fines they had to pay.
To ensure safety is regarded with the same importance within every company of every size, a large company with a turnover higher than £50m would be fined between £4m to £20m if the company is involved in a serious incident. At the other end of the scale, small organisation (with turnover £2m or less) would be fined between £180k to £540k.
Recently the first company was charged under the corporate manslaughter act when one of its drivers was killed in a road accident. The firm was fined £700k.
The crash happened in 2011 - Lindsay Easton from Baldwins Crane Hire was a crane driver and while he was driving at Scoot Moor, Lancashire, the breaks failed and the vehicle crashed on an earth bank. Mr Eaton's actions were thought to have saved further injury (or even worse) to other memebers of the public as he tried to stop the vehicle in the run-off lane. It could have been even worse if he had continued along the road iself.
Investigations showed evidence that the brakes and systems in the engine to slow the vehicle were faulty in both Lindsay Easton’s vehicle and other vehicles from Baldwins’ fleet.
After the tragedy, Baldwins’ executive chairman publically apologised to the family of the victim and assured that everything has been done to make sure that any other similar incidents would not happen again. There is more regulation within the company and they frequently inspect the vehicles to make sure they are reliable.
In addition to suffering a terrible tragedy, the company also suffered from a poor image, huge costs and a very long procedure with the courts. This is a hard price to pay when it is so easy and cost effective to implement a driver risk management programme that could save lives and avoid a company incurring much stress and cost.