Steel Manufacturer Pays £1.5 Million Price of Health and Safety Breaches

Steel Manufacturer Pays 1.5 Million Price of Health and Safety Breaches

The Court of Appeal heard a case where a steel manufacturer had been fine £1,985,000 for breeches in Health and Safety. These fines are intended as a warning to others that the matter was taken seriously. Despite this and the fact that two men had been injured they reconsidered the fine as it was excessive.

A heavy steel pipes had crushed two of his fingers and months later at the same workplace a second worker had a finger cut off by a lathe that had no guard. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 was used to prosecute the business and the judge fined them and pointed out that the workers had sustained injuries to their hands by using dangerous machinery and could have been avoided.

The company’s lawyers challenged the fine on the basis that while the company had a turnover of £4 billion after tax and costs it had lost £850 Million. The Court pointed out that at 0.6 per cent the fine would not jeopardise the business.

The lawyers further argued that categorising the possibility of an accident as high it would appear that they were negligent and although there had been a previous accident with the lathe it happened 15 years ago and the lathe has subsequently been in use for 15,000 man hours without any problems. On that basis the probability of an accident should not have been regarded as high and the judge should have rated it medium. On that argument the fine was reduced to £1,500,00. Fines are intended to be painful and punitive.

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