Rising HSE fines highlight the importance of compliance
In early January, the HSE announced that it would continue its programme of proactive surprise inspections at food manufacturing firms. These inspections are the organisation’s latest effort to motivate firms to reduce the causes of ill health and injury and can result in HSE fines.
Making health and safety a priority is an essential goal for all manufacturing firms, as HSE fines are higher than ever before. In fact, even though there were 51% fewer HSE violations that resulted in a conviction for manufacturers in 2016 – 17, the total fine amount for the sector more than doubles from £12 million in 2015 -16 to £25 million last year. This averages out to £157,821 per conviction and represents one third of all HSE fines for the year (£69 million).
To avoid harsher health & safety fines, adopt the following guidance:
- Conduct a risk assessment for each piece of plant and equipment as well as each required task. This will help identify the three most common kinds of accidents in manufacturing: lifting / handling; slips, trips and falls; and contact with machinery.
- Keep detailed documentation of your efforts to address health and safety to show an HSE inspector
- Provide your employees with health and safety training each time they are assigned a new task, after an accident or annually.
However, if one of your employees is injured, remember you have access to Fit for Work which helps employees stay in or return to work by providing free, expert and impartial general health and work advice.
Be wary of this year’s major risks
According to a recent report published by the insurance industry experts, the manufacturing sector has several significant challenges to overcome this year. The most pressing of these include the following:
- Skills gap – There is an annual shortfall of around 20,000 skilled workers entering the sector
- Fourth industrial revolution – Not enough firms are adapting to how digital and wireless technology is changing manufacturing processes.
- Lack of apprentices – only 54% of firms are training apprentices.
- Health and safety – Every firm has some type of lifting and moving risk, 24% of injuries in this sector were caused by lifting and22% by slips, trips and falls in 2016 – 17.
- HSE prosecutions – A staggering 98% of HSE violations in manufacturing resulted in a conviction.
If the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) visit your workplace to investigate an accident or in an unannounced inspection and discover a violation of health & safety regulations a “Fee for Intervention” (FFI) will be charged. The total amount charged is based on the length of time taken in the original visit, time taken to identify the breach and complete their regulatory action.
FFI insurance provides access to an H & S expert to help you through the process.
- Up to £25,000 in respect of fees for professional advice, a review of documentation and personal attendance where the HSE have notified you of a subsequent meeting or have served an enforcement notice
- Up to £25,000 if a FFI is charged
- If the HSE wish to conduct an “interview under caution” up to £5,000 for HSE expert fee and up to £5,000 for legal fees to represent you