September 27, 2021

Construction industry’s average health and safety fine could increase by 52%

Analysts at health and safety consultancy Arinite have revealed that the average fine for a health and safety breach within the construction industry could increase by an average of 52%.

Robert Winsloe, Managing Director at Arinite, said: “Failing to implement health and safety regulations can be devastating for companies. Not only could you face hefty fines or even a prison sentence, but you could also be putting your staff members at risk of fatal injuries.”

In 2020 there were 224 cases of breaches against various health and safety regulations, resulting in fines and guilty verdicts.

Mr Winsloe continued: “Despite the potential consequences, many businesses are continuing to breach guidelines, resulting in avoidable life-threatening incidents.

“Some firms may feel their budget restricts their ability to provide a full health and safety policy but being fined would be a much bigger financial hit.”

The services industry has seen the largest actual increase in average fine, rising from £96,828 in 2016 to £140,768. The HSE also handed out 80.6% more fines to service companies. 

The construction industry’s average fine climbed by 52.2%, from £74,231 to £112,953, despite the number of fines slightly decreasing since 2016.

The construction and services industries were also responsible for 52.6% and 36.8% of the prison sentences for HSE cases in 2020.

Mr Winsloe added: “To fulfil your duty of care as an employer and avoid facing fiscal and litigation risks, you must create a health and safety policy and conduct risk assessments.

“It’s also vital to provide safety training for staff and inform them of any risks in the workplace and how you’re addressing the issues.

“If your business has five or more employees, you’ll need to appoint a health and safety competent person too. You can nominate yourself, an existing employee, or a third-party company.”

Arinite studied HSE data on the expense required for the average company to meet health and safety guidelines, factoring in inflation since the study was published.

The analysts found that yearly health and safety costs for an SME equal an average of £44,214, or £62,770 less than the average breach fine in 2020 of £106,984.

For a small business with fewer than 50 staff, the yearly cost of compliance decreases to an average of £6,687, a huge £100,297 less than the average fine.

Across 2019/20, there was an estimate of 38.8m working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries. 

Stress, depression, or anxiety accounted for 17.9m days lost due to work-related ill health, and musculoskeletal disorders caused 8.9m days.

The various costs associated with breaching health and safety laws can have an ongoing financial impact on any business. By complying with the relevant regulations, companies can lower their outgoing costs, protect their business’ image, and provide a safe work environment.