10 Highest UK Health & Safety Fines of 2024

Posted by

Emmeline de Chazal

on 11 Apr 2024

Last year, some big health and safety fines were issued, with the top six hitting the million-pound mark. We examine the largest penalties of 2024 thus far.

health and safety fines 2024

The highest penalty in 2024 so far is large enough to make it onto last year's top 10 fines list. Since we have just seen the close of the first quarter of the year, it is concerning that there is already a penalty of this magnitude.

While it is encouraging that companies that breach regulations meet serious consequences, it is also concerning that breaches warrant such large penalties. There has been an upward trend in the highest health and safety fines in recent years, with the biggest fine in 2022 being over double the highest fine in 2020.

However, the largest penalty in 2023 broke this trend. Ideally, the number of fines issued year on year would decrease. Health and safety training helps companies avoid workplace accidents and the penalties that come with them.

Accident Reporting & Investigation E-learning Course

According to the most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, falls from height remain the biggest reason for fatal accidents among UK workers. This accounts for 30% of all fatal workplace injuries in 2022/2023.

Construction is still the most dangerous industry in terms of health and safety, with the largest number of deaths attributed to this industry.

Headline UK health & safety statistics

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that in 2022/2023:

  • 135 workers killed at work
  • 561,000 non-fatal injuries at work according to self-reports (Labour Force Survey)
  • 60,645 non-fatal injuries reported by employers (RIDDOR)
  • 1.8 million workers suffered from work-related ill-health
  • 35.2 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury

Top 10 H&S breach fines of 2024

  1. Keltbray Limited: £900k + £18.4k costs
  2. Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: £480k + £costs
  3. M.A. Forshaw Limited: £320k + £4.5k costs
  4. Orean Personal Care Limited: £300k + £4.5k costs
  5. Crediton Dairy Ltd: £160k + £3k costs
  6. Electrostatic Magic Limited: £67k + £7.2k costs
  7. Pin Croft Dyeing and Printing Co. Limited: £60k + £2.1k costs
  8. Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd: £50k + £2.6k costs
  9. Turners and Moore Ltd: £40k + £2k costs
  10. The Granite and Marble Shop Limited: £26k + £3.7k costs

Top 10 H&S breach fines of 2024 in detail

We have examined the UK's biggest health and safety fines over the past few years to help you understand how to avoid making the same simple mistakes.

1. Keltbray Limited: £900k + £18.4k costs

Work at Height Regulations 2005

Keltbray Limited faced a hefty fine of £900,000 after an incident involving a harrowing fall from a height of 6 meters. The gravity of the situation was evident as the company had already allocated a substantial provision of £6 million in its latest financial accounts to address what was termed a "civil regulatory matter" linked to this unfortunate event.

The beginning of this issue can be traced back to a prior management team, indicating that the repercussions of lax safety measures persisted despite leadership changes. The potential range of liability stemming from this incident is staggering, estimated between £3.9 million and £16 million, underscoring the seriousness of the oversight and its enduring ramifications.

2. Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: £3m + £4.2k costs

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Section 2(1)

Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £480,000 following an incident where an employee lost consciousness and sustained a brain injury while clearing a blocked drain.

The employee was discovered in a manhole on the hospital premises by colleagues and was rescued by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service. He was treated for acute sulphate intoxication. This led to a traumatic brain injury with enduring effects such as memory loss and nerve damage.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed lapses in safety protocols by the Trust, including a failure to recognise the manhole as a confined space and inadequate risk assessment. Moreover, the Trust neglected to implement measures to prevent staff from entering confined spaces and lacked proper training for the estates team on the hazards associated with such activities.Healthy Working Training Course

3. M.A. Forshaw Limited: £320k + £4.5k costs

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Sections 2 (1) and 3(1)

M.A. Forshaw Limited, a company engaged in fruit and vegetable production, has been fined £320,000 after a tragic incident resulting in the death of Francis Schlachter in January 2020 at their site in Burscough.

Frank, a devoted family man from Southport, suffered fatal head injuries when he fell from a skip while assisting in tipping food waste into it from a forklift truck. The container attached to the forklift was prone to detachment during the operation, a hazard known to the company.

Despite regulations stipulating risk management in the use of work equipment, an investigation by the HSE revealed that M.A. Forshaw Limited had not adequately assessed the risks associated with this routine task nor properly maintained their equipment.

Furthermore, they neglected to provide adequate training on safe working practices to their staff. The tragedy highlights the importance of diligent risk assessment and adherence to safety regulations in the workplace to prevent such devastating accidents.

4. Orean Personal Care Limited: £300k + £4.5k costs

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Section 2(1)

Orean Personal Care Limited, a cosmetic manufacturing company, has been fined following an incident where a worker lost part of a finger while cleaning a machine. In October 2021, the man was overseeing a tube-filling machine operation where five employees were using it to fill tubes with a heat-sensitive product. When the machine became contaminated and required cleaning, he was injured as part of the machine unexpectedly moved, trapping his finger.

As a result, he underwent partial amputation of his middle finger and continues to experience pain, possibly necessitating further surgery. An investigation by the HSE revealed that safety protocols were breached as the interlocked guard had been bypassed, allowing the machine to operate with the guard door open.

This lapse in risk management exposed various employees, from machine operators to cleaning staff, to potential harm. The incident underscores the critical importance of maintaining proper safety measures to protect workers from such avoidable accidents.

Working at Height Checklist

5. Crediton Dairy Ltd: £160k + £3k costs

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (No 16)

Crediton Dairy, a factory, has been implicated in exposing two workers to asbestos during renovation work. The initial fine of £300,000 was reduced to £160,000 by a judge at Exeter Crown Court.

The judge, Stephen Climie, deemed the original penalty excessive, citing the company's limited resources and exemplary health and safety record. The prosecution stemmed from the failure to promptly remove lagging from pipes, left on-site for over two weeks by contractors in July 2019.

6. Electrostatic Magic Limited: £67k + £7.2k costs

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 7(1) & REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008 Article 67

A tragic incident occurred at Electrostatic Magic Limited's site in Peterborough, resulting in the loss of a young employee's life. George Setchfield, aged 21, was found unconscious over the side of a container while working at the company.

An investigation by the HSE revealed that the company had failed to control the exposure of its employees to hazardous chemicals adequately. They determined that Electrostatic Magic Limited could have taken several measures to prevent such incidents.

This includes the installation of local exhaust ventilation, the use of appropriate tools to handle chemicals, and providing suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE).

"Companies need to understand the dangers of working with hazardous chemicals and ensure employees are not unnecessarily exposed. Deaths can result from working with Dichloromethane-based stripping fluids."

- Tom Pouncey, HSE inspector

Employee Wellbeing Desk Aid

7. Pin Croft Dyeing and Printing Co. Limited: £60k + £2.1k costs

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Section 2(1)

Pin Croft Dyeing and Printing Co. Limited, a textiles company near Chorley, faced a fine of £60,000 following an incident where a worker from Blackrod, Greater Manchester, sustained serious injuries to his right arm.

The accident occurred when the man while operating a fabric spooling machine, attempted to manually slow down the rotation after a brake malfunction. His sleeve got entangled with an exposed grooved spindle, pulling his arm into the machinery and causing severe damage.

Despite being aware of the risks posed by the exposed spindle, the company failed to either remove or properly guard it. As a result, the worker suffered broken bones in his forearm and extensive tissue damage, leading to a hospital stay and six months off work.

Pin Croft Dyeing and Printing Co. Limited pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and was fined £60,000, with additional costs. HSE inspector David Bellis emphasised the importance of employers implementing adequate safety measures to prevent such incidents.

8. Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd: £50k + £2.6k costs

Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 Sections 2(1)

A scaffolder, Steven Gilmore, suffered a severe electric shock while working for Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd on a temporary roof scaffold project in Crawley. The incident occurred when he inadvertently struck a live 11,000-volt power line while lifting a scaffold tube, resulting in a fall of over five meters and significant injuries, including a badly broken leg and life-changing burns to both hands.

An investigation by the HSE found that the company and its director had failed to adequately assess the risks associated with working near high-voltage power lines. Despite being aware of the proximity of the power line, the company did not consult with UK Power Networks to ensure safe working distances.

Additionally, the director permitted the use of six-meter scaffold tubes dangerously close to the power line without implementing necessary safety measures. As a consequence, the director received a suspended prison sentence, and the company faced fines for its negligence in ensuring worker safety in high-risk environments.

8 Steps to Safer Lifting & Handling

9. Turners and Moore Ltd: £40k + £2k costs

Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Section 2(1)

The director of a woodworking company in Norwich, John Risby, narrowly avoided immediate imprisonment after his employees were exposed to harmful wood dust. Wood dust poses severe health risks, including cancer and respiratory issues, and employers are legally obligated to prevent or control exposure.

Risby, of Turners and Moore Limited, received a suspended four-month custodial sentence and his company was fined £40,000 by Norwich Magistrates Court. An inspection by the HSE in November 2017 revealed significant deficiencies in the company's efforts to mitigate wood dust exposure.

Despite enforcement action, a subsequent inspection in August 2022 showed ongoing failures to maintain safety standards, leading to further enforcement measures.

To control wood dust exposure, measures such as dust extraction and vacuuming instead of sweeping can be implemented. Guidance is available for the woodworking industry, and ongoing inspection campaigns aim to protect workers from such hazards.

10. The Granite and Marble Shop Limited: £26k + £3.7k costs

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 Section 33(1)

A stone worktop manufacturer based in Stockport, Granite & Marble Shop Ltd, has been fined £26,000 for repeatedly jeopardising the safety of its workers. Despite warnings from the HSE, the company failed to implement adequate safety measures, particularly in guarding dangerous machinery at its site in Reddish.

After an HSE inspector's visit in 2019, enforcement action was taken to install appropriate guards and implement daily checks to ensure their effectiveness. However, during a follow-up visit in August 2021, it was discovered that these guarding measures were either broken or disabled, once again exposing employees to danger.

The subsequent HSE investigation found that Granite & Marble Shop Ltd had neglected to properly manage, supervise, and monitor the control measures in place, leading to the misuse of guards. Despite available guidance emphasising the importance of considering worker safety when using machinery, the company failed to ensure a safe working environment for its employees.

Workplace Accidents Training Presentation

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