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Lone worker safety: Non-compliance could come with a ‘hefty price tag’

Attendees at the recent Lone Worker Safety Expo 2017 heard about a sharp increase in cases of companies being fined for not complying with rules surrounding lone worker safety and health and safety in general.

Keynote speaker Lukas Rootman, partner at commercial law firm Nabarro, spoke of the legal responsibilities for employers of lone workers and the implications of the sentencing guidelines on health and safety obligations. 

The new guidelines were imposed in February 2016, since which time the price tag for non-compliance has risen dramatically, running into hundreds of thousands of pounds per case and generally being based on the turnover of the guilty employer. Previous guidelines had applied only to fatal incidents but now apply to both fatal and non-fatal cases and cover culpability, level of harm and ‘financials’.

Citing examples, Rootman told of case study relating to a chain of newsagents which was fined after a spate of violent robberies at its stores. The firm was said not to have properly assessed risks and fined £150,000. However, Rootman estimated that such a case now could by subject to a fine of £540,000 based on the turnover of the newsagents, begging the question why a company would not invest properly in staff safety in the first place with the risk of such high fines.

Another example was the case of a security guard contractor which was fined £20,000 after one of its guards was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning having turned on a petrol generator to keep warm at night in a cabin. Today such a case would incite a starting point fine of £160,000,

In summary, Rootman urged companies to revisit their risk control procedures and consider whether or not existing measures and safeguards are adequate. He commented: “I think the conclusion is clear; employers’ responsibility remains the same, but there is a bigger price tag for non-compliance. Businesses must step up their efforts to improve compliance or pay the hefty price.”

 

Posted by Andrew Miller

Image courtesy of iStock/keiferpix

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