Is there a difference in a health and safety fine compared to a fire safety fine?

  • Is there a difference in a health and safety fine compared to a fire safety fine?
Author: 
QDOS Consulting - www.qdoshr.com

A question that I have been wondering about for some time. You would you’re a health and safety person! Well, yes I suppose I am and proud of it! Back to my quandary.

It would appear that two companies were co-handed a record fine for inadequate fire safety (May 2017) after a fire broke out in an apartment building.

The property owners, along with an estates management company pleaded guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and sentenced in a London Crown Court.

If we compare the highest health and safety fine recently handed out to Merlin Attractions for the ‘Smiler’ ride incident at Alton Towers last year of £5m, then this record fine of £250,000 is pocket change in comparison.

In this incident, 13 people were rescued, eight fire engines called and 60 firefighters were on hand to tackle the blaze.

Failings discovered

The London Fire Brigade inspectors discovered failings which included:

  • lack of an alarm or detection system inside the flats and communal areas.
  • No fire risk assessment in place for the building.
  • Doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape routes.

The judge said both companies were aware of fire safety failings but reacted “by putting their heads in the sand” and described the building as an “accident waiting to happen.”

The fines are broken down as follows:

Property owners

  • £80,000 for not carrying out a fire risk assessment
  • £10,000 for not providing adequate fire detection
  • £10,000 for failing to allow people to escape safely.

Estates Company

  • £120,000 for not carrying out a fire risk assessment
  • £15,000 for not providing adequate fire detection
  • £15,000 for failing to allow people to escape safely.

London Fire Brigade were the enforcing authority in this case and were awarded full prosecution costs of £49,500. Their inspector is hoping that the size of the fine will send a strong message to other private landlords who ignore their responsibilities for fire safety.

Private landlords have duty of care.

If you are a private landlord, you have a duty to the safety of your tenants whether you provide a dwelling-house or a large commercial scale building occupied by businesses. With the latter, service level agreements will determine the level of responsibility for building protection, but domestic houses are the sole responsibility of the landlord.

Remember, you must install a smoke detector on each floor of your dwelling, provide a Carbon Monoxide alarm where you have a gas boiler, open-fire etc. and ensure the gas appliances are appropriately inspected by a Gas Safe Engineer at least annually or as advised.

Contact your Chamber Support Services advice line for information: 01455 852037

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