NEWS: Manufacturers pay highest price for safety failures, finds report

Sentencing guidelines impact manufacturers the hardest, with higher than average fines for health and safety seen in manufacturing in the past year compared with other sectors.

HSE data shows that manufacturers are particularly exposed to the risk of high financial penalties for health and safety failings, writes Sean Elson, health and safety partner at Pinsent Masons for Changing Risks, Health & Safety & the Manufacturing sector a white paper produced in collaboration with the British Safety Council, published in April.

The report finds that in 2016/17 the average fine issued per conviction in the manufacturing sector was £108,630. This compares with the overall average fine for health and safety offences of £87,655 per conviction.

Elson writes that, as well as preventative action to avoid fines, manufacturers must act quickly once convicted of an offence to demonstrate health and safety leadership. “We have seen cases where employees have given a negative impression of their employer’s approach to health and safety to HSE officers,” he writes.

“This can be avoided by having processes to listen to any concerns and good communication about the safety actions they are taking.”

Other chapters in the report show how the changing nature of work could increase the chance of incidents occurring in manufacturing.

Manufacturers are particularly exposed to high fines for health and safety failures. Photograph: iStock/RGtimeline

The article by Louise Ward, policy, standards and communications director at the British Safety Council, says that while digital technologies open up ways of managing risks better, they must also be conscious of new risks introduced. “Using robots to carry out functions that have been traditionally performed by humans can create complacency about risk and an assumption that the robots have it all in hand.”

Changing Risks, Health & Safety & the Manufacturing sector Report available here