In what is believed to be the first of its kind, a builder has been sentenced to six months in jail for failing to comply with his duty under RIDDOR – the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 - to report a serious injury that occurred at a building site under his control.

The breach came to the HSE's attention approximately eight months after a worker's leg was amputated while using an excavator. The HSE was notified by lawyers engaged by the worker to pursue a civil claim for personal injury. However, the delay in notification meant that little could be done by way of meaningful investigation as the construction job had almost been completed by the time the HSE became aware.

Despite a number of health and safety breaches being discovered, the HSE prosecuted the builder for breach of RIDDOR. The builder, Mr Lewis, who was 75 at the time of sentencing, claimed to have no knowledge of the legal duty incumbent upon him, which the HSE described as "unacceptable ignorance" and the sentencing judge as "wilful blindness". It is also understood Mr Lewis did not have appropriate employers' liability cover in place.

In considering sentence, the judge accepted the HSE's submission that failing to undertake any training/education on good health & safety practices over the course of a 50-year career could be categorised as an aggravating factor in terms of the sentencing guidelines; cost cutting at the expense of health & safety. Despite having no previous convictions, the judge determined that a custodial sentence was "unavoidable" in the circumstances. It is understood that Mr Lewis was not legally represented during the case.

While this case is another example of the willingness to prosecute individuals and push for tough sentences, it also serves as reminder of the potential consequences of failing to comply with what some may consider the more 'basic' health & safety duties. The importance of engaging appropriate legal advice as soon as possible following an incident in the workplace remains crucial for all employers.

If you have any queries regarding this update, or general health & safety questions, please contact senior associate Victoria Anderson.


Victoria Anderson

Senior Associate