Latest death fine shows impact of new sentencing regime
The latest fine handed out to a construction company for the death of a worker has highlighted the impact of the new sentencing guidelines, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has said.
Derbyshire-based civil engineering and plant hire outfit Leedale was given a £300,000 fine earlier this week after a worker was fatally crushed in the company’s yard.
The penalty contrasts with the £2.6m fine given to Balfour Beatty last month for the death of a worker in a trench collapse six years ago.
A spokesperson for the HSE said the fines were in line with new sentencing guidelines that came into force in February. He said: “Essentially it links the level of the punishment or the fine in most cases to the size of the company, turnover and profit.”
Leedale has a turnover of just £6.1m according to its latest results for the year to December 2014, while in contrast, Balfour Beatty’s group turnover is over £8.4bn.
The Sentencing Council guidelines, which came into effect in February, suggest fines of up to £20m for large companies with turnovers over £50m, depending on the offence, while small companies with annual revenue below £10m can be fined up to £2.8m.
The Leedale accident occurred when 39-year-old Matthew Lambert was refuelling his road sweeper at the yard of the civil engineering company. The refuelling point on the vehicle was at the rear, and it was while he was refuelling that a tipper lorry reversed into him.
Lambert was crushed between the two vehicles and died of catastrophic head injuries. An investigation by the HSE into the incident which occurred on 26 November 2013 found there were no marked or identified vehicle and pedestrian routes. There were no rules or control of reversing manoeuvres, and the lighting at the site was poor and below the required standard.
The company pled guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,737.
Last month Neil Stone, deputy chief executive of the British Safety Council, told CM he expected a new era of multi-million-pound pay-outs where large organisations are guilty of serious safety breaches, following the introduction of the new sentencing guidelines.