“Conviction is a near certainty”

Leading accrediting body warns of high HSE conviction rates and ever-bigger fines facing those in construction sector  

CFTS — the UK accrediting body for Thorough Examinations (LOLER and PUWER) — is warning those in the construction sector that they face record fines should they be convicted following a prosecution brought by HSE.   

“The most recent statistics make sobering reading,” says Geoff Martin, Chairman of CFTS. “Construction is an exceptionally hazardous industry with a non-fatal injury rate of 59,000 per year – that’s 76% higher than the all-industry average. Even more disturbing is the fact that if you work in construction, the chances of you dying are four times the all-industry average.

“In addition to the human cost, employers also face increasingly severe financial penalties and an exceptionally high probability of conviction.”

As has been well-publicised, courts are now adopting a very robust approach towards offenders. Since the introduction of the Health and Safety Guidelines in 2016 the average fine has more than doubled, with judges handing out punishments intended to have a significant economic impact on the businesses concerned. Looking at the most recent figures, the average fine has increased from £107,000 in 2019/2020 to £145,000 in 2020/2021 — an increase of 35%. What’s more, 7 of the cases sentenced in 2020/2021 resulted in a fine of £1 million or more.  **

“The chances of being found guilty have also increased,” continues Geoff Martin. “Recently released statistics reveal that if a case is brought by HSE, then the probability of conviction is significantly greater than for other criminal cases with 94% of those prosecuted being found guilty… compared with 83.6% for general convictions.

“As a result, we are urging all employers in construction to review their health and safety procedures – and that starts with ensuring equipment is regularly inspected to certify it is safe and fit for purpose,” emphasises Mr Martin. 

“It makes complete financial sense, not just because of the risk of prosecution but because of the importance of protecting your investment in expensive plant.  

“That means carrying out routine pre-use checks and underpinning those with Thorough Examinations that cover both the lifting components (as required under LOLER regulations) but also the brakes, steering and other safety-related parts (covered by PUWER). 

“The incentives for employers to ensure they are fully compliant when it comes to safety have never been greater, with conviction a near certainty if an accident results in a prosecution. 

“CFTS can offer advice on what should be covered in a Thorough Examination to comply with HSE requirements and the intervals when it should be carried out.” 

For more information visit 

* Health and Safety Executive Annual Report and Accounts 2022/23


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