The sentencing guidelines have elevated penalties for OSH regulatory breaches and corporate manslaughter offences. Since their introduction on 1 February this year, there have been as many £1m-plus penalties as there were in the previous 20 years.
In May, one of the group’s divisions, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, was fined £2.6m after an unshored trench collapsed on a worker, fatally crushing him.
In its results for the half-year ended 1 July, Balfour Beatty said of the penalty: “The fine was judged on the basis of the new sentencing guidelines published by the Department of Justice and demonstrates the increasingly heavy financial consequences for failures to meet the necessary safety and environmental standards.”
The half-year accounts showed that pre-tax losses from non-underlying items were £28m. This included £25m, which “largely relates to a reassessment of potential liabilities on historical health and safety breaches following new sentencing guidelines introduced earlier this year”, the company said.
In January, before the guidelines’ introduction, Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering was fined £1m for the death of a worker who was struck in the head by a crane.
Balfour Beatty, which had a previous goal of achieving zero harm to its workers by 2012, said it remains committed to the target.
In the first IOSH Magazine webinar two leading safety lawyers - Dr Simon Joyston-Bechal, director of Turnstone Law, and Michael Appleby of Bivonas Law - discussed the implications of the new court guidelines that have boosted OSH fines. The sentencing guidelines webinar is available to view at bit.ly/2bmYeZb