2 Fines for same offence have 10 fold difference – WHY??

In the middle of March 2015, a young man working at a fast food restaurant suffered serious scalds after spilling boiling oil on his feet.

He had been tasked with emptying oil from 3 deep fat fryers. This involved draining the fryers into a metal bucket and carrying the bucket up a set of metal stairs to the disposal point.

As he climbed the steps, he spilled the oil on his feet, scalding himself and dropping the bucket.

The spilt oil also put at risk other members of staff who came to help the injured person.

The EHO who investigated found that

  • The oil was transferred hot rather than waiting for it to cool to below 40 Degrees Centigrade
  • The metal bucket should have had a lid but it didn't
  • The PPE provided was too large and so was not worn
  • No specific risk assessment had been recorded for transferring oil up the metal steps

The local authority prosecuted the company who owned the franchise and operated the business on 2 counts of Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA) and due to a legal technicality one count was for an offence before 12 March 2015 and one was for an offence after 12 March 2015.

The fine for breaching Section 2(1) of HASAWA before 12 March 2015 was £13,300 and the fine for breaching Section 2(1) of HASAWA after 12 March 2015 was £153,360.

The difference in fines levelled - for the same offence - is of real significance as it shows the vast changes that the sentencing guidelines has made  bearing in mind that both these fines were levied by the Magistrates Court.

Prior to this change the maximum fine that could be imposed in the lower court was £20,000 per offence.

Contact us to review your own systems to prevent such an accident for occurring at your place of work and mitigate any fine that might be levied.



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