Health and safety experts guilty of failing to ensure workers’ safety

Consultancy firm found guilty of health and safety offences

A health and safety company has been found guilty of committing multiple offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act at Ipswich Crown Court and will be sentenced next month.

Worksafe Training Consultancy, based in St Andrew’s Street, Bury St Edmunds, appeared in Ipswich Crown Court where the directors underwent a four day trial before a judge and jury, who decided that the company was guilty of failing to ensure the safety of workers at a factory which had hired the company for its supposed expertise.

Managers at Jan Cavelle Furniture, in Haverhill, hired Worksafe Training Consultancy to advise them on meeting current health and safety standards. Worksafe contracted the job out to a third-party consultant, who gave the managers at Jan Cavelle “bad advice”.

Two Jan Cavelle employees, Caine Heathcote and Stefan Puricel, suffered serious injuries at their workplace factory when operating a woodworking machine, an overhead router, and a biscuit jointer. Jan Cavelle and the Health and Safety Executive hold Worksafe responsible for providing an ‘inadequate’ consultancy service.

The court heard how Worksafe were to receive a payment of £1,500 from Jan Cavelle for its consultancy service. The managing director of Worksafe, Russell Fife, said his company would have pocketed half of this, while the other half would have gone to the sub-contracted consultant.

Worksafe Training Consultancy was found guilty of a number of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and will be sentenced in April.

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Farms to face tougher health and safety penalties

Farmers and farm businesses to face tougher sentencing penalties 

Farm owners and agricultural businesses are to face tougher penalties from this month if they are found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations.

The new sentencing guidelines were introduced by The Sentencing Council in February this year and it means tougher penalties for any workplaces that are found guilty of breaking health and safety rules, including food hygiene offences and corporate manslaughter.

The new regulations come just weeks after the death of two farm workers in a slurry pit on farmland in Sunk Island in Holderness. Phil Cookson, from Roythornes Solicitors, which specialises in agricultural law, said: “Everyone in the industry wants to see farmers’ health and safety record take a turn for the better, for obvious reasons.”

Companies with a turnover of over £2m who are found guilty of breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, can face a fine of up to £450,000; while large firms with a turnover of more than £50m, will find themselves facing a fine of up to £10m if they breach the health and safety regulations.

Under the new guidelines judges are advised to take the employer’s level of liability into account (low, medium, high, very high) and the level of risk and potential harm that could have resulted from the breach.

Mr Cookson added: “We can expect to see some small farm businesses hit really hard if they end up on the wrong end of an health and safety prosecution.”

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New sentencing guidelines to be introduced in February

The Sentencing Council has published revised sentencing guidelines for health and safety, food and hygiene safety, and corporate manslaughter offences, which will be used by judges and magistrates in courts in England and Wales and will come into force on February 1, 2016.

The new sentencing guidelines are designed to ensure that “there will be comprehensive sentencing guidelines covering the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences”, as the Sentencing Council considered the previous guidelines to be too “limited”.

New healthy and safety prosecuting guidelines come into force

The offences which are addressed in the guidelines have been described as “very varied” and include sentencing rules in relation to injuries and manslaughter offences as a result of insufficient training or unsuitable equipment; shoddy workmanship by handymen, electricians, plumbers etc; and e.coli poisoning as a result of poor food hygiene, to name just a handful of the offences detailed in the guidelines.

The Sentencing Council has said that the revised guidelines will result in tougher penalties and fines, and that judges and magistrates will now take the seriousness of the offence and the turnover of the offending company into consideration.

Michael Caplan QC, Sentencing Council member, said: “These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk. These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these.”

The revises sentencing guidelines can be found at www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk