I know for many businesses that trying to cut down costs is something that is often necessary; however trying to save money can sometimes prove to be very costly. We would warn that where decisions about health & safety cost savings are taken that they are done in conjunction with a suitable risk assessment.
If Chessington World of Adventures theme park had taken this approach then a four year old girl probably wouldn’t have suffered life changing head injuries. She had fallen through a gap in fencing on a raised walkway when queuing for a ride at the park; the gap had been a result of rotting paling. The little girl fell 4 metres and suffered a fractured skull amongst other injuries and still needs extensive rehabilitation treatment and specialist support.
The HSE investigation showed that although the missing panel had fallen out that morning the whole fence showed evidence of serious weakening. The HSE concluded that Chessington did not have:
- Adequate systems of checking and inspecting the fencing;
- A maintenance process to ensure faults were identified and rectified;
- A proper means of protecting the fencing from the weather;
- Failure to respond to a recurrent problem – palings had been re-fixed on numerous occasions.
Had Chessington had an adequate maintenance regime and reporting system then management would have been able to identify a pattern developing and been able to respond positively.
These failures resulted in a fine of £150,000 and costs of £21,614 after Chessington pleaded guilty in Crown Court.
Had Chessington looked at its risks properly (and maintenance of a wooden walkway should have been an obvious risk) then it would surely have allocated sufficient resources which would have cost far less than it has.
So my advice to you is to make sure if you are wanting to stop doing health & safety related tasks consider fully what that means to your business.