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Health and safety should be a priority for all company owners and team leaders. It is particularly important to be aware of the rules and regulations in high-risk industries, including the construction sector. In this article, we’ll explore the top occupational health and safety fines in the UK and offer advice to help you minimise the risk of accidents, injuries and penalty fines.

Top fines in occupational health and safety in the UK in 2021

court gavel Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in 2019/2020 alone, 111 employees were killed at work, 693,000 people were injured at work and almost 39 million working days were lost due to illness or injury.

Some accidents and injuries are inevitable, but many could be prevented with more effective, rigorous health and safety measures. Organisations that flout health and safety guidelines or fail to comply with the latest regulations face the possibility of fines, which can total thousands or even millions of pounds.

Here is a list of the highest recent occupational health and safety fines in the UK:

  1. National Grid: £4 million (plus £92,000 costs) – The highest fine given to an organisation in the UK in 2021 was a £4 million penalty for National Grid. The fine was handed out after investigations confirmed that the company had failed to complete hundreds of routine property inspections.
  2. British Airways: £1.8 million (plus £92,000 costs) – High-profile airline, British Airways, was fined £1.8 million in 2021 after an employee was injured at Heathrow Airport. The employee was crushed by a tug vehicle while walking between lanes at the airport. The lanes provided were deemed unsafe by the HSE, which also pointed out additional failings, including transport risks and a lack of suitable supervision.
  3. Enterprise Managed Services: £1 million (plus £60,000 costs)
    Enterprise Managed Services was fined £1 million in 2021 after an employee was killed after being run over by a refuse lorry, which was reversing at the time. The worker was fatally injured when they tripped and fell under the wheels of the vehicle. HSE inspectors found that the company had failed to conduct a suitable risk assessment for the route.
  4. Egger Ltd: £910,000 –  Egger UK Ltd received a fine worth £900,000 after a self-employed HGV driver was killed while making a delivery. The driver of the vehicle was hit by a shovel loader while standing at the back of his vehicle. HSE investigations highlighted a failure to carry out suitable risk assessments for transport used within the workplace.
  5. Young’s Seafood: £787,500 (plus £33,000 costs) – Seafood provider, Young’s was fined almost £800,000 after an employee sustained severe injuries caused by getting their hand stuck in a machine used to make fish cakes. The machine continued to run, despite the operative lifting the guard and pressing the emergency stop button.

The highest health and safety fines on record in the UK

The highest fine on record in the UK was handed to Transco following a gas explosion in Larkhall in 1999, which killed a family of four. A fine of £15 million was confirmed in 2005 following a trial, which lasted 27 weeks.

The second and third highest fines were handed to Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure Services and Network Rail respectively following train crashes in Hatfield and Ladbroke Grove. Balfour Beatty was fined £7.5 million following a derailment in Hatfield in 2000 and Network Rail was fined £4 million following a crash between two trains at Ladbroke Grove in 1999.

Steps to avoid occupational health and safety fines

Organisations and companies that fail to comply with health and safety regulations run the risk of substantial fines in addition to the damage to their reputation. To minimise the risk of fines and penalties, it’s essential to follow these steps:

  • Appoint qualified health and safety advisers or leaders
  • Provide regular training
  • Keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations
  • Carry out regular risk assessments
  • Encourage employees to report issues or concerns and address them as promptly as possible
  • Ensure that employees have the necessary training and equipment to work safely

How we can help

At K2A, we specialise in occupational health and safety. We work with companies and workers to establish and implement best practice guidelines, create safe workplaces and minimise the risk of accidents and injuries.

As an experienced occupational health consultancy, we offer safety critical medicals for workers, which are accredited by SEQOHS (Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Service). To find out more and book a medical, visit https://www.k2a.uk.com/occupational-health-services/.