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Small business – £1 million+ fines for Health & Safety breaches

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Legal Update

“Company hit with £1 MILLION fine after apprentice died”

“Largest ever fine £2.2m handed to ‘idiotic’ firm after death”

“£3m fine for oil giant as new HSE sentencing guidelines start to bite”

These are all headlines from last year – and the escalating figures are no coincidence. February 2016 saw the introduction of new sentencing guidelines. These have brought a dramatic increase in fines handed out for health and safety offences and corporate manslaughter.

The Health and Safety Executive’s clampdown doesn’t stop with the meteoric rise in financial penalties. Individuals are now more likely to be culpable. There is now a far lower threshold for prison sentences when a director, manager or employee is found guilty.

Everybody’s worst nightmare

A serious or, in worst case, fatal accident at work is obviously deeply distressing for all concerned. The devastating impact for family, friends and colleagues is inevitably accompanied by a loss of trust in the company. Where a tragedy – or even potential tragedy – could have been avoided but for breaches in protective procedures due to consent, connivance or neglect, there have always been financial implications. However, the new ‘Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guideline’ lifts these to an entirely different scale.

Fines now link to a company’s turnover. The starting point is dependent on the level of culpability, prior record and harm. In the worst cases, the guidelines make clear this could be up to 100% of the firm’s pre-tax net profit for the year in question. For the largest organisations, this could mean fines in excess of £100 million.

Clearly, health and safety must be at the forefront of the minds of everyone working in construction. With the new guidelines, the HSE has made its position abundantly clear. It is now for the coostruction industry to rise to teh challenge.

Unprecedented fines

Previously, fines for a health and safety offence leading to a fatality had a recommended starting point of £100,000. Now a medium-sized company (with a turnover of £20-50 million) could face a figure upward of £4 million. Even an offence by a smaller company without any death carries the potential for fine in the hundreds of thousands.

Since the new guidelines came into play, there have already been 16 penalties of £1 million or more. This compares to a previous total of just 32 since 1975. At the current rate, there could be 30-40 per year. Prior to February 2016, approximately five individuals a year received immediate or suspended custodial sentences. There have been at least 20 since and not all the offences in these latest cases resulted in injury.  

There is little doubt that one mistake could put a company’s future in jeopardy – and its management in jail.

Protect your employees – and yourself

Fortunately, few firms intentionally put workers at risk to save money or time, but a simple oversight, rushed decision or shortfall in expert knowledge can have the same disastrous consequences.

With the stakes so high, it is more critical than ever that companies can relieve that pressure with complete faith in the specialists. At Highwire, we not only provide exactly the right height safety equipment for the specific site and project but take all relevant precautions at every stage, from design and installation to maintenance and user training.

Our team has an in-depth understanding of our products and the industry, legislative requirements and up-to-date best practice – but crucially we don’t work in isolation. The new guidelines call for accountability at board level. It is important that those who are ultimately responsible within an organisation are actively engaged with the measures put in place. Only with input from both sides can the solution be carefully tailored to the individual circumstances, and factors such as budget be taken into consideration without any compromise on safety.

Don’t take risks with safety – contact Highwire today – 0161 612 7633 

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Highwire on track

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Proud of the great finish  achieved by our installation team and the rest of the team at the library transformation project. Metreel curved track

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Top Marks

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Well done to all the team for our lastest performance score of 110 out of 110!
We were assessed on Quality, envirommental and health and safety perfromance during our recent installation at a YMCA project in Southport for Conlon Construction.

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Manchester City Council- Town Hall Transformation

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Highwire are proud to be working with Laing O’ Rourke on this project. We have just completed  some calculations for the first part of the job this week.

We really like Manchester City Council’s flickr feed showing our community the progress of this large and complex project, taking these iconic and well loved land marks into the 21st century.

Take a look

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The Sharpe Building

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Contractor

Bramall Construction Ltd

Installation Details

Background:

Highwire Ltd worked with Bramall Construction Ltd on this project to install a semi-permanent Latchways Mansafe to a metal deck twin skinned roof sheet.

Challenge:

Bramall Construction Ltd required a straightforward solution to allow their roofer a means of safe working access whilst covering the roof lights.

Solution:

Latchways Constant Force Mansafe system was installed to allow the roofers to cover the fragile roof lights. We also installed 2 x 20m of Handrail where the parapet was below 1100mm so when the Mansafe system was removed the whole roof area is a safe working place.

The Mansafe has now been removed by us to allow the roofer to recover the whole roof. The handrail remains in place. 


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Windsor House, Slough

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Client

Green Properties Ltd

Architect

ESA Design Ltd

Installation Details

Background:

This glass fronted eight storey building required permanent, safe window cleaning access.

Challenge:

To install a product that did not ruin the smart minimalist look of the building.

Solution:

Highwire Ltd worked with Volker Fitzpatrick Ltd to design and install a personalised abseiling track to levels 6, 7 & 8 of Windsor House.
This quality system allows for safe working access whilst cleaning the windows to the exterior of the premises.

The job ran from January 2009 — June 2009 and was completed with remarkable results.

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MacIntosh Mill, Manchester

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Contractor

Mansell Construction Services Ltd

Installation Details

Background:

The mill located in Manchester City Centre was being converted from it’s previous use into high specification studio apartments. We were asked to provide a structurally sound Height Safety Solutions for this unique, listed structure.

Problem:

As a listed building nothing of its external appearance could be changed. Mansafe systems were chosen because of the inconspicuous way they could be hidden & fixed back to existing timber rafters, along all gutter areas that were required to be accessed for maintenance purpose.

Solution:

Our strategy, as always with existing structures was to complete a full site survey. This included detailed photographs, plans drawings showing layouts of the Mansafe systems against rafter/roof/purlin configurations and a written report. All dimensions and beam sizes were added so that there could be no discrepancies in what we had envisaged as a solution and the completed works.
On award the job was initially passed to our in-house structural design department. We are unique in the industry as we have qualified Engineers who work in the company.
The contract was installed to specification and on time. The customer was impressed with our innovative professional approach and we were awarded the second part of the contract almost immediately after we had finished our initial contract.

We were pleased to have been of assistance  on  such a challenging  project.

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Burnley Health Lift

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Contractor  

 

Eric Wright Group
A flagship development – the Burnley Health Lift. This was a £28 million pound health and leisure centre.

System Details

  • – Abseiling Track Systems supplied by Metreel Ltd, both internal and external envelopes of the structure.
  • – Cable Mansafe Systems supplied by Latchways PLC.
  • – Abseiling posts , bespoke design by Highwire Ltd.
  • – Faba Ladders supplied Metreel Ltd.

Project Details

Highwire Ltd worked in close conjunction with the “Eric Wright Group” and the Architects ” Nightingale Associates” to provide solutions to the Safe working at height & window cleaning tasks that were required. We worked closely with the Architect, Planning Supervisors and the Contractor to provide effective, economical solutions to allow safe working access for maintenance of the structure over its 25 year proposed lifespan.

The Solutions we envisaged and products we installed ensured safe access and practises to maintain and clean the external glazed facades / windows throughout the development. It also enabled safe access and practices for the maintenance of the roof areas / vents / gutters etc.

We ensure the best products that are available to us are installed on all our contracts. This is to provide our clients with a guarantee and quality assurance that is continuous from manufacture through to installation.

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