How Likely are Directors to be Jailed for Health & Safety Offences?

We’re often asked by Directors if they can be jailed for health and safety offenses. It is quite rare, but it is possible.

The people who normally ask this think that there’s some sort of random risk that they might face if something goes wrong, rather than recognizing that the way to be jailed is to actually ignore what you’re meant to be doing.

There was one case that came before the courts that most people would find quite incredible. In 2010, an employee at a particular company was killed when they were able to climb into a waste compactor due to defective interlocks. The interlocks stopping access to the machine should prevent access to it. There was a major investigation at the time, with Health and Safety Executive involvement and prohibition notices served, all to prevent another tragic accident from happening.

Fast forward five years and the Health and Safety Executive visited the factory again. They found the same machine, which was subject to the prohibition notices, with the same interlocks still defective, not working and waiting to kill the next person who decided to climb in.

No one had actually been injured since the death in 2010, but a prosecution was taken both against the company, with a very large fine, and the Director responsible, who was jailed for eight months. That is an example of how to get yourself jailed by ignoring important health and safety issues in your organisation.

For more information on avoiding health and safety offences, please contact Quadriga on 0118 929 9920 or click here to email us.

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