Whirlpool £700K Fine Halved on Appeal as Company Demonstrates Safety Processes in Place
Whirlpool £700K fine successfully halved on appeal by demonstrating “a culture of commitment to safe systems and improvements in which all the employees were engaged”.
In March 2017 Whirlpool was served a £700K fine for breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act after a contractor fatality. Clive Dalley was working at height installing fire detection equipment from a MEWP when it was struck by an overhead conveyor basket. The conveyor was switched on by Whirlpool maintenance employees who were unaware that Dalley had returned from a break and had placed his MEWP in an unsafe position.
Whirlpool went to appeal in November, questioning the harm category and arguing the fine was “manifestly excessive” considering their financial circumstances. In the appeal, the presiding judge ruled that Whirlpool’s breach was one of low culpability, because the company had not fallen far short of the appropriate standard of safety management. The accident happened in spite of the fact that Whirlpool’s permit to work scheme had been in operation, and a work at height risk assessment was in place. A “walk through” of the works had also been completed two days earlier, all of which tended to demonstrate their commitment to H&S. The fine was further reduced to reflect the “wafer-thin” margins Whirlpool was operating on at the time of the accident.
Richard Nichols, SG World Sales and Marketing Director commented: “The appeal ruling shows that under the new guidance, judges will look hard at a company’s commitment to H&S by examining their existing processes and workplace culture and reflect this in arriving at their final figure.”