Edeco Petroleum Services was fined £200k plus prosecution costs of £47,400k after the death of a sub contractor. Unusually, this fine represented an estimate of projected profits for the current financial year, which the judge intended as a stark warning.

The deceased was suffocated by the arm of a large piece of lifting equipment. The arm, powered by a large hydraulic ram, descended and trapped his neck against a horizontal beam. Edeco admitted breaches of s2(1) and 3(1) HSW Act, in failing to carry out more than an “extremely basic” risk assessment on site, or to assess the safety of the machine, which it had imported directly from Canada.

The judge indicated that his intention in wiping out profit was to indicate clearly that “such a casual and lax approach to health and safety” would cost companies money. In imposing the fine that he did, he added that his intention was to damage the reputation and management of Edeco, without financially destroying it and jeopardising employees’ jobs.