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Commercial Flooring News

Health & Safety Abuses

CONTRACTORS were fined a total of £3.4m for health & safety breaches in 2010, a rise of 22% (up from £2.8m) the year before, according to new figures from the Health and Safety Executive.

The HSE launched 214 cases in 2010/11, 197 resulting in convictions. The average fine was £17,283. HSE prosecuted 362 offences, with 300 convictions and average fines of £11,349.

HSE chief construction inspector Philip White explains: ‘The courts set fines at a level that reflects the seriousness of the health & safety failures the construction industry.

‘But court costs are just one part of the price the industry pays for failing to manage risk sensibly and effectively – personal suffering for the victims, lost productivity, ruined reputations and in the worst cases, companies closing down. ‘It’s in everyone’s interests to get better at managing risks on site.’

Among the heftiest fines in 2010 was £385,000 paid by Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, the first company to be convicted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Act 2007. Other big penalties included £130,000 for Lafarge after an electrical engineer was engulfed by a fireball.

The figures, part of the HSE’s annual statistical release, showed major injuries per 100,000 workers
declining since 2007/08. The incidence rate for major injuries – including amputations, fractures and burns – in 2010/11 was 173.2 incidents per 100,000 workers, a drop of 25% since 2007/08 and down from 180.5 per 100,000 workers in 2009/10. The figure represents 9% of reported major injuries across all industries in 2010/11 while construction employs 5% of the total workforce. HSE says that 5,000 occupational cancer cases arising each year are as a result of past exposures in the construction sector.

Around 2.3m working days were lost due to self-reported work-related illness or workplace injury in the sector. More than three-quarters of these were due to health problems and only a quarter due to injuries. This equals 1.1 days lost per worker.

HSE chair Judith Hackitt says: ‘The fall in the number of people injured by work is welcome, but we did also see an increase in the number of fatalities during the year.

‘Britain can be proud that it has one of the best health & safety records in Europe, but as the rise in the number of fatalities makes clear we can never let up in our commitment to addressing the serious risks which continue to cause death and injury in workplaces.’

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.