Whose fault is this?

Whose fault is this?

London’s largest bus operator has been fined £600,000 after a worker died when he fell 2.5m from a ladder.

Go-Ahead London appointed a sub-contractor maintenance company to refurbish a fuel tank.

A lone employee arrived to start the job and as he tied off his ladder he fell backwards and sadly he died from his injuries two days later.

No disrespect to the deceased, he would not have foreseen the consequences of his actions and I am sure this could be called a genuine accident. So why should the host company be made to pay such a huge sum?

Usually in Health and Safety law the ultimate responsibility lies with the employer but the contractor was deemed unfit to stand trial due to illness so he was not prosecuted. However, the host company also have a duty of care to any person on their premises.

On this basis, the courts prosecuted Go-Ahead London for not carrying out due diligence on the work which they allowed to take place on their premises. The fine was levied for failing to review the contractor’s risk assessments and safe systems of work.

The new sentencing guidelines consider the likely consequences of the incident and the turnover of the company concerned. Whether we believe this is morally right or not is a moot point, health and safety law determines that anybody with a duty of care has a responsibility. This includes the individual, his employer and those that requested the task in the first place.

This must send alarm bells to every business. How well do we monitor our visitors and contractors? Isn’t it natural to expect a professional job from a professional business? Do we ever ask for proof of qualifications or competence? How often do we ask for risk assessments or method statements?    

If we don’t we might just be held responsible for the actions of others.

Simpler Safety Ltd
7 North Street
South Kirkby
West Yorkshire

Call us on (01977) 808 500