10 Highest UK Health & Safety Fines of 2021

10 Highest UK Health & Safety Fines of 2021

The health and safety fines handed out in 2021 have been substantially less than that of 2020.

So far, 2021 has been a bumper year for safety fines, with the highest penalty doubling the biggest fine in 2020, while the highest fine in 2019 was only £1 million!

Many of the fines handed out this year resulted from equipment not being safeguarded.

If a risk assessment identifies any significant risk of major injury to operators and others, checks should take place by an inspector with sufficient knowledge and experience.

Headline UK Health & Safety Statistics

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics shows that in 2019/2020:

  • 111 workers killed at work
  • 693,000 working people sustained an injury at work (Labour Force Survey)
  • 65,427 non-fatal injuries happened among employees (RIDOR)
  • 38.8 million working days were lost due to work-related illnesses and workplace injuries
  • £16.2 billion estimated costs of injuries and ill health were from current working conditions (2018/19)

Top 10 H&S Breach Fines of 2021

  • National Grid: £4m + £92k costs
  • British Airways: £1.8m + £92k costs
  • EPUT: £1.5m + £86k costs
  • Aster Healthcare Ltd: £1m + £185k costs
  • Enterprise Managed Services: £1m + £60k costs
  • Drayton Manor Park: £1m
  • Egger (UK) Limited: £910k
  • Young’s Seafood: £787.5k +33k costs
  • BAM Nuttall: £700k
  • Nestlé UK: £640k + £30k costs

Top 10 H&S Breach Fines of 2021 in Detail

We have examined the causes of the UK’s biggest health and safety fines to help you understand how to avoid the substantial penalties associated with compliance breaches.

1. National Grid: £4m + £92k costs

Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 / 3 / 1

The largest health and safety fine so far in 2021 was handed to National Grid Gas plc. The health and safety offences arose from its failure to make records available for hundreds of properties, resulting in routine safety inspections not taking place.

When National Grid Gas sold part of its operations to Cadent Gas in 2016, the records of many buildings were not transferred. That meant that condition surveys, inspections and routine maintenance had been missed for years.

It highlights that even if injuries do not result from such mistakes, you can still be subject to hefty fines.

2. British Airways: £1.8m + £92k costs

Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 / 2 / 1

British Airways was fined £1.8m after an employee was crushed by a tug vehicle at Heathrow Airport.

An HSE investigation found that the practice of walking between the two provided lanes was unsafe and that British Airways was in breach of health and safety regulations.

The HSE identified significant failings in the general management of health and safety and workplace transport risks, including issues relating to supervision and monitoring, risk assessment and training.

HSE inspector Megan Carr described the situation as “an incident waiting to happen.”

3. EPUT: £1.5m + £86k costs

Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 / 3 / 1

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) was fined £1.5m for a litany of systematic health and safety failure that led to avoidable deaths.

The offence arose in connection to their failure to prevent suicides. The risk posed by ligature points had been highlighted yet the trust took years to take action.

Judge Cavanagh commented that there was “no doubt the failures to remove ligature points were a significant cause in the deaths of 11 people who died during the relevant time period and of a 12th person who died just after and a number of near misses.”

4. Aster Healthcare Ltd: £1m + £185k costs

Corp Manslaughter & Corp Homicide 2007 / 1 / 1

Aster Healthcare Ltd was fined £1m for corporate manslaughter after the death of an elderly woman at a nursing home in Bracknell.

The company owned the home where the 93-year-old was put into a scalding bath. Aster Healthcare Ltd admitted to falsifying water temperature records that were submitted to the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Safety Executive.

Mrs Justice Thornton passed the sentence, stating that the company had “fallen short of standards” and had been “cost-cutting” for years.

5. Enterprise Managed Services: £1m + £60k costs

Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 / 2 / 1

Enterprise Managed Services was fined £1m after a worker was fatally injured after tripping and falling under the wheels of a reversing refuse lorry.

The HSE investigation found that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had not been carried out for their collection route and there was a failure to adequately supervise the Daventry waste and recycling round.

An HSE Inspector stated that “those in control of workplaces are responsible for identifying and implementing suitable methods of working to reduce the need for vehicle reversing.”

6. Drayton Manor Park: £1m

Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 / 3 / 1

The former operator of the Drayton Manor theme park was fined £1m following the tragic drowning of an 11-year old on one of their rides.

After falling from a Splash Canyon, Evha Jannath waded back to the conveyor belt only to fall into deeper water and drown.

An HSE investigation revealed that there were inadequate control measures in place to detect a person in the water. The CCTV covered only half the ride and the monitors were not suitable for observing passengers behaviour. In addition, there was no system in place to rescue anyone who had fallen into the water.

As the operator from that time went into administration, the penalty will likely never be paid.

7. Egger (UK) Limited: £910k

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations

Egger (UK) Limited was fined an amount of £910k after the death of a self-employed lorry driver during a routine delivery.

The driver, who was standing at the rear of his vehicle, was struck by a wheeled shovel loader that was in operation in the yard. The HSE found that the company had failed to conduct sufficient risk assessments for the workplace transport. As a result, there were no appropriate risk control measures implemented.

The HSE inspector, Kathryn Wilson stated that “This incident could so easily have been avoided had the company identified the risks and put straightforward control measures and safe working practices in place.”

8. Young’s Seafood: £787.5k +33k costs

Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 / 2 / 1

Seafood processor Young’s was was fined £787k after an employee’s two fingers got crushed in a fishcake machine.

When the member of staff lifted a guard to clean, the machine would have been from running. Instead, it continued to run and did not even respond to the emergency stop button.

An HSE investigation found poor communication between maintenance and the shop floor plus an inadequate fault reporting system.

9. BAM Nuttall: £700k

Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 / 15 / 2

BAM Nuttall was fined £700k when an employee died after being run over by a six-tonne jumper whilst changing a blade on some equipment.

The firm didn’t have a system in place to segregate people from vehicles and allow safe maintenance.

10. Nestlé UK Ltd: £640k + £30k costs

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 Breach: Reg 11

Nestlé UK received a £640k fine after an employee was dragged into a machine on the production line of their Albion Mills site in Halifax.

The technical operator placed his right hand close to a gap in the machine housing, while an emery cloth held in his right hand was dragged into the machine taking his arm with it. The employee was unable to reach any of the emergency stop buttons located around the machine from the position in which he was trapped.

The company had failed to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machine, namely an ‘in-running nip’. There was a gap large enough to allow access at a belt conveyor entry on the After Eight line.

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