I just wanted to highlight two recent South West prosecutions about Health and Safety breaches. In addition to the fines handed down, for me they highlight so much more.

28 July 2016 – Manufacturing

A Bristol based manufacturer of concrete products (Concrete Fabrications Ltd plant in Henbury) has been fined after a worker’s arm was torn off when it was pulled into the rotating tail pulley of a conveyor belt. Concrete Fabrications Ltd of Cole Road, St Phillips, Bristol, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 with £7,758 costs awarded to HSE.

I can’t help thinking about the devastation and trauma this was for the operative, his family, his workmates and friends. This will be a long road towards some sort of recovery. Then the company. Yes it was fined, publicly named, I assume facing a personal claim. The time spent since the accident and disruption must overall have a company bottom-line balance sheet concern. This surely is going to have an effect on the workforce. Time spent in hospital, after care and ongoing support, which is funded by the tax payer.

Like most accidents, whilst fingers point, sometimes people get hurt and after all the court cases there is a human factor that in some cases, not unlike this one, that continual way after the event.

I do wish this operative and his family well. I also hope lessons were learnt and in many ways hope the company recovers for the sake of its workforce. no doubt H&S at the plant has had a review, which going forward is a good thing.

Sometime H&S advice sounds like ‘after the horse has bolted’ but it’s clear that if you ignore H&S then the consequences can be counted in more than just monetary terms.

1 July 2016 – Home owner, sub-contractor

An illegal gas fitter and the company that hired him have both been prosecuted after work was left in a dangerous condition at a home in Torquay. 1st Maintenance Ltd Director, Marc Robertson contracted Mark Baker, an unregistered plumber, to fit a gas boiler at a property on Coker Avenue, Torquay, where his company was carrying out some home improvement work.

After Mr Baker had installed the gas boiler at the property he told the homeowner that he had commissioned the boiler but left them with no paperwork and did not register the gas boiler with the Local Authority, both of which are legal requirements.

When a qualified engineer visited her property on an unrelated matter they raised concerns about the gas boiler installation and the homeowner contacted Gas Safe Register. The Gas Safe Register Inspector classed the boiler as ‘At Risk’, which indicates a potential risk to life.

Mark Baker, of Daison Crescent, Torquay pleaded guilty to two breaches of gas safety regulations and was given an 8 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, was ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £4,197.28 in costs.

1st Maintenance Ltd of Grange Road, Allacombe, Torquay pleaded guilty to a single breach of gas safety regulations and was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £640 in costs at Exeter Crown Court.

Well, in this instance, thankfully, no one got hurt! However, the director and ‘illegal gas’ fitter both should have known better. The house owner and all those close by were put at risk. That’s not fair!

In business we all make mistakes, errors of judgement and are let down by our workforce and sub-contractors alike. But GAS and how you handle it is not a mystery, so on this occasions there is no sympathy for the company or the so called fitter. Big thumbs up to the Gas Safe engineer!

My main concern would be “is this really the only gas work this guy had done?”

Bob Turner, MD

Originally published on LinkedIn on 18 August 2016.