This case demonstrates the implications of failing to ensure that company work equipment is regularly serviced and maintained.
A coach company in Wrexham was fined £250,000 after it repeatedly failed to comply with legal notices to get its lifting equipment examined.
Wrexham Magistrates’ Court heard that GHA Coaches Limited failed to have its lifting equipment thoroughly examined within the required timescales to ensure that health and safety conditions were maintained.
In 2015, an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that there were more than 14 overdue Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) examinations. On that occasion, an improvement notice was served and then extended, but still resulted in the Company’s failure to comply with the notice.
Also, a previous improvement notice was served on the company in 2011.
GHA Coaches Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(3)(a)(ii) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and failing to comply with an Improvement Notice and was fined a substantial amount of £250,000.
SAFETY SMART MESSAGE:
Safety Smart’s legal team has dealt with a number of LOLER enforcement notices and prosecutions in recent years where there has been a problem with a piece of lifting equipment that should have been properly identified prior to the accident as it was, prior to the accident, identified as a defect in the organisations maintenance regime.
Safety Smart cannot emphasise enough the importance of ensuring LOLER compliance as part of an integrated maintenance programme, an important aspect to responsible risk management.
This case demonstrates two recent trends:
i) the shift over to risk rather than harm in the new sentencing regime as no-one was injured but the company was nonetheless given a very substantial fine; and
ii) also the huge increase in fine levels under the new regime for a breach which previously would have been dealt with in a nominal way.
This case should send a serious message to our client base that failure to ensure LOLER compliance and compliance generally with enforcement notices and the existence of risk alone can result in substantial 6 figure sums which are very difficult for the vast majority of businesses to afford.