Home >Sentencing guidelines have changed the manual handling landscape

Sentencing guidelines have changed the manual handling landscape

10 April 2019

Richard Denton, senior consultant, Southalls explained how he sentencing guidelines introduced in 2016 have introduced a step change in how culpable companies are punished for serious incidents.

Heavier financial and legal penalties were brought in too counter the perception that larger companies were getting off relatively lightly.

Richard said: “They look at your turnover, the harm category, your culpability.

“One example is Wilko, a 22 year old student was using a roll cage in a store to push tubs of paint towards a lift. The floor was uneven, and it toppled on her, causing severe spinal injuries. She was paralysed from the waist down.

“Among the failing were the uneven floor, which Wilko was aware of, top-heavy poorly loaded cages. The operator was also untrained.”

Wilko’s turnover at the time was £1.4 billion and the fine was £2.2m. For comparison, Wilko also had a forklift incident, pre new Sentencing Guidelines, which resulted in a fatality, yet the fine in that case was £200,000 or 10 times less.

“Companies are not insured against criminal prosecution,” says Richard. “So the cost is off the bottom line.

“We suggest get employees involved, ask their opinion on workplace hazards. HSE research says 77% of employees raise concerns in a good work climate, while only 20% tend to speak up in a poor one.”

Southalls offers the Safety Cloud compliance software product, which helps to simplify every aspect of health & safety management from risk assessments to staff training and more.