Health and Safety Fines – Why They Are More Than Just Numbers

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This year alone, the HSE have issued over £2.4 million in fines for breaches in Health and Safety, some of which caused fatal injuries to workers. Sadly, a large proportion of these incidents could have been avoided if the proper safety procedures had been implemented and reviewed accordingly.

Employees shouldn’t have to be at risk of injury within the workplace to highlight safety concerns, and steps should be taken to ensure that potentially harmful scenarios are avoided.

Safe Systems/Risk Assessments

While filling out forms can seem dull, risk assessments and safe systems of work are in place for the very reason of ensuring the safety of workers in hazardous environments or utilising dangerous equipment. It is important to keep these documents up-to-date, and review them regularly to amend any changes, and implement new safety solutions as needed.

Screen Guards

Screen guards should be in place to prevent injuries to workers using dangerous machinery, such as machines with moving parts, or exposed hazardous sections, i.e., machining equipment, wave solder machines, and heat treatment devices. One of the major problems with screen guards not being used correctly is when they are damaged or scratched, limiting visibility to the product or process, and so they should be maintained and replaced regularly to ensure their functionality is not affected, and the safety of any workers is not at risk.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment is vitally important for the safety of workers, and quite a number of fines have been issued this year alone for lack of regular maintenance or replacement of damaged or compromised PPE.

Ensuring that workers have the correct PPE for the operations they are required to undertake in day-to-day work falls upon the employer’s responsibilities, and as such they are liable for maintenance and replacement failings. Make sure that all required PPE is available, and spares are kept topped up as per requirements.

Training Courses

Workers should never undertake tasks or jobs that they have not been given the correct training on how to complete safely; not only does it put themselves at risk, but it can endanger the lives of other workers in the area if processes are not followed correctly. When a new employee starts work at a business, they should be scheduled for safety training on the responsibilities they are due to undertake as soon as possible.

Also, it is just as important to make sure that any staff should have refresher training available to them at any time, so that they may brush up on processes and procedures that may otherwise be missed, which is especially important for safety.

If you feel that the work you are about to undertake is not safe, or there are dangers that you feel have not been sufficiently addressed, stop where it is reasonably possible to do so and speak to your supervisor or Health and Safety Lead. 

For employers, it is essential that safe working practises are followed, risk assessments are carried out thoroughly and reviewed regularly, and any comments or issues raised are investigated and resolved where possible. Health and Safety Fines are a small price to pay compared to an avoidable injury in the workplace!

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