Construction projects are replete with dangers and, where a failure to match up to health and safety rules results in injury or death, deterrent financial penalties are frequently imposed. In a case on point, a building contractor received a £425,000 fine after a worker fell through a fragile roof light and was gravely injured.
The contractor had been engaged to replace air handling ducts on the roof of a leisure centre. The worker, who was employed by a subcontractor, fell through a roof light which had not been appropriately protected. He sustained spinal fractures, internal bleeding and damage to his spleen and was off work for several months.
The contractor received the fine after it admitted contravening the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. In challenging the penalty before the Court of Appeal, the company pointed to its frank admissions and otherwise good health and safety record. It had cooperated fully with the Health and Safety Executive inquiry that followed the accident. In dismissing the appeal, however, the Court found that the fine was proportionate, just and not manifestly excessive.