Judges take a tough line against health and safety breaches at work and are intent on sending out a message to employers that laxity will not be tolerated. In one recent case, a packaging company was hit with a six-figure fine after a worker’s toes were amputated by an industrial machine.
Disregarding health and safety rules can put your liberty, as well as the welfare of your staff and customers, in jeopardy. The owner of a restaurant that served a peanut allergy sufferer with a fatal dish found that out to his cost.
Fires can cause enormous damage in just a few minutes, but uncovering where responsibility for them lies is a laborious task that can take years. In one case, the High Court pointed the finger of blame at an electrical fault in a drinks vending machine almost eight years after a blaze gutted a college building.
Many people do dangerous jobs, but employers are required by law to do all in their power to minimise risks, and the consequences of failing to do so can be severe. In one case, an equipment maintenance company was served with an improvement notice under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 after a near-fatal accident.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published annual statistics for health and safety at work in Great Britain for the year April 2016 to March 2017. These show that an estimated 31.2 million days were lost through work-related ill health (25.7 million days) and non-fatal workplace injury (5.5 million days).
If a negligent worker causes injury in the course of his job, compensation is generally payable by his or her employer under the principle of vicarious liability. However, as one case concerning an office prank showed, that does not apply where the worker concerned is on a frolic of his own.
Fire safety regulations are there to be obeyed and those who fail to do so will be hit hard in the pocket. In one case, a sweets manufacturer was fined £60,000 after a five-storey building that it occupied was condemned as a potential death trap.
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