It has been announced today that national window and door installers Safestyle UK have been fined a massive £850,000 after a worker fell from a ladder.
This is their full statement published on their PLC website:
Safestyle UK plc, the leading retailer and manufacturer of PVCu replacement windows and doors to the UK homeowner market, today provides an update on its Health & Safety Executive (“HSE”) investigation.
As announced in the Group’s Final Results on 22 March 2018, Safestyle had two incidents in 2017 involving installations at height which led to reportable injuries. The HSE has carried out investigations into both of these cases, with Safestyle’s fullest co-operation. Whilst it continues to investigate one of the incidents, the HSE advised the Group that it intended to prosecute Safestyle in relation to the other accident, in which a contractor suffered a knee injury.
Following a court case today, Safestyle has been fined £850,000 for this incident. The HSE had previously indicated, as reported, that the range of the fine could be £550,000 to £2.9m for this incident. The fine has been reduced in light of the guilty plea entered and the Company’s full co-operation with the HSE. The Company will pay the fine in the next two weeks from existing cash resources.
The Group will provide an update on the other case that is currently under investigation as and when appropriate.
The range of this fine was wide, anything from just over half a million to nearly three million pounds. So at £850,000 it is at the lower end of the possible scale. That being said, £850,000 to have to pay out, when under extreme trading pressure already is something I am sure the company would rather have done without.
What I didn’t understand was there there was another case under investigation. I’m not sure whether the case is similar in nature to the one just settled. If it is, then Safestyle can expect another fine of a similar amount to this one.
Despite this, in the past few days Safestyle’s share price has recovered from it’s lows of last week:
Today’s news didn’t seem to dent the share price all that much either.
But the share price isn’t the important factor in this case, more the safety, or lack of, involved.
£850,000 is still a heft sum of money to pay. It’s the most I have seen for such a case in a very long time. My guess is that the amount will have been judged on the severity of the injury, and to also make a point out of this as a warning to all other industries connected to construction that flouting of health and safety will not be tolerated.
Whether you think health and safety to be an exciting subject of conversation or not, it is a subject that has to be taken seriously. No one’s life or well being is worth the cost of a window or some scaffolding.
Yet, I see it so much in my neck of the woods, where companies are prepared to bend the rules to save a few hundred quid here and there in order to win the business from home owners. At our place, scaffolding is always used, even if it could be deemed as overkill for the job. We will not risk the safety of our staff just to make our quotes cheaper and win the business. We’d rather lose the work than subject any of our workers to unsafe conditions.
It’s not the attitude of many others though, and I think this fine is meant to also be a warning shot to others who know they aren’t following the rules as they should be.
I will keep an eye out for the result of the second case and report back once news has been announced.
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