8 Month Prison Sentence Plus 7 Year Director Disqualification After Safety Failings.

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) has issued a press release detailing its investigation into the conduct of Mr David Gordon Stead (‘Mr Stead’), a director of a construction company. Mr Stead received an 8 month prison sentence and a 7 year director disqualification for safety failings at his construction company. This article looks at the details of the case and highlights the serious consequences of non-compliance with the relevant regulations.

The Background to this Regulatory and Director Disqualification Case

Mr Stead was investigated by the HSE, who had received a report on his conduct from a third party. The Investigation found that Mr Stead had instructed a worker to stand on top of a skip to dispense flammable thinners onto burning waste to help it burn better. The thinners ignited, causing a fireball that blew the worker from the skip, who suffered serious  burns to his arms and legs.

The HSE found that Mr Stead:

  • Had not ensured that the burning of the waste was carried out in a safe or appropriate manner.
  • Had failed to administer any first aid and did not sent the worker to hospital, which the HSE deemed the most appropriate response given the severity of the injuries.

In addition, Mr Stead had failed to inform the HSE of the incident, and in so doing had not complied with the  legal requirement to do so, under Section 4(1) of The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (“RIDDOR”).

Following the investigation, Mr Stead pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 as well as pleading guilty to breaching section 4(1) of RIDDOR. He has been sentenced to 32 weeks’ imprisonment, half of which is on release under licence. He also received a director disqualification period of 7 years.

This is What The Health and Safety Executive said:

Adele Davies the HSE Inspector stated that:

“David Stead failed his employees. His actions could have resulted in the death of this worker. The young man suffered unnecessary life threatening injuries due to poor working standards.”

“We hope this sentence sends out a message that directors of businesses must take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”

Our Comment on this Case

Had Mr Stead complied with his duties, under Section 37 and Section 4(1) respectively, he would have avoided the loss of his liberty and the reputational and financial damage caused by it. He would also have avoided the director disqualification penalty. The case is a reminder that compliance with Health and Safety legislation is a necessity for good working practice and that a failure to comply will result in severe action by the HSE, against the director personally.

We are well used to dealing with the tactics and strategy of defending such cases, to the best advantage of the Company and its directors.

If you have any questions regarding your duties as a company director under Health and Safety legislation, and the effect of non-compliance in any case, please contact us or call us today on 0121 200 7040 for a FREE, no obligation initial chat.