Yesterday, on 6 August 2020, the Government published the above White Paper. The purpose of the White Paper is to do the following: “Planning for the future, landmark reforms to speed up and modernise the planning system and get the country building”.
Hampshire County Council’s recent £1.4 million fine, following a serious injury to a six-year-old girl, demonstrates the increased risk of substantial fines for health and safety breaches. The fine also emphasises the need for all organisations to ensure that they adequately assess and mitigate risks to the safety of members of the public.
Almost all organisations understand that they have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees. However, under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974, organisations are also obligated to avoid exposing members of the public to health and safety risks through the conduct of their business. Hampshire County Council breached this obligation.
Whilst the case involves a local authority, the principles apply to all organisations. Housing providers, for example, must mitigate the risks to members of the public who decide to use the playparks, benches and bike shelters on their premises.
As we discussed in our previous e-briefing, 'Sentencing safety-related offences within the health and social care sector', the level of fines for health and safety offences has increased significantly since the Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines came into force. Earlier this year, BUPA Care Homes Limited was fined £1.5m on appeal also concerning a breach of section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974.
A six-year-old girl was visiting Lymington in Hampshire with her family when she climbed onto a hinged iron bollard. The 69kg bollard fell to the ground and pulled the young girl with it resulting in life-changing head injuries. Until she matures, it will not be possible to identify the extent of her injuries.
It was clear that the bollard had been damaged and was inadequately secured. The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation demonstrated that the Council had received a report regarding the state of the bollard before the incident. Yet, the monthly inspections by the highways department’s personnel did not pick up on the issue. The HSE found that the highways personnel received inadequate and, in some cases, misleading training, guidance and information in order to assist them in carrying out ad-hoc and routine inspections.
Hampshire County Council was found guilty after a trial of breaching section 3(1) of HSWA 1974 and was fined £1.4m and ordered to pay full costs of £130,632.
It is important to ensure that risk assessments are in place for any equipment, including street furniture, that the public could use. It is also important that suitable inspection programmes are in place that account for each piece of equipment’s risks, location and frequency of use.
An inspection routine alone is unlikely to be enough. Organisations should ensure that inspections are sufficient, and inspectors and maintenance staff are appropriately trained and guided as to how to carry out the inspections. A clear mechanism for reporting, and more importantly rectifying, faults should also be put in place.
If an incident occurs, you must seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure a suitable case strategy can be formulated.
For help with any issues raised in this briefing, please contact Lorna Kenyon.
The Johnny Depp -v- News Group Newspapers trial concluded last week and has been widely publicised and reported on around the World.
On 30 June 2020, Boris Johnson announced radical changes to the planning system.
Six months after the first recorded case of COVID-19 in the UK, it is clear that charities, community organisations and volunteers have played a huge role in the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
This article is further to our previous e-briefing (published on 22 July 2020) where we informed you that there are new temporary measures (a new Practice Direction PD55c) that have been brought into deal with possession claims, following the stay being lifted on possession claims on 22 August 2020.
A podcast from Alex Loxton and Sumi Begum from our housing litigation team, discussing injunction applications and the courts approach in light of COVID-19 and the ban on possession proceedings.
We have asked colleagues in the Employment Law team to highlight what they think is key to managing a redundancy programme well.
The use of video remote witnessing of Wills will become law.
There’s no doubt about it, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed incredible pressure on the NHS.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £3.8 billion SDLT giveaway may bring benefits for registered providers of social housing, according to ACS experts in the sector.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.