Employee prosecuted by HSE / Employer not to blame

So often we hear about Companies that are failing to meet their legal responsibilities and, as a result, people are injured or killed. Recently we read in the press about an employee of Holker Highways who was prosecuted by the HSE for failing in his legal responsibilities, which resulted in a child being injured. The Company however were found to be blameless.

It is right and proper that the HSE takes this action, and it is also right that we should endeavour to ensure that all employees are aware of their legal responsibilities, and the potential for prosecution for failing in these responsibilities. Clearly, the morale of this story is that it is incumbent on both employer and employee to fulfil their legal responsibilities in order to prevent accidents and avoid prosecution. The City of London Magistrates’ Court heard how street light operative Joseph Parker, 25, was instructed by his employers, Volker Highways Limited, to investigate a faulty street lamp on Gillett Square in Hackney on 20 January 2010. However, when he detached the reflector at the top of the lamp post it fell on one-year-old Taahyra Kasham who  was being pushed along a London street in her pram by her mum. The one-year-old needed stitches to her wound, but her mum escaped unhurt.

The HSE investigation found the incident was entirely preventable. Temporary barriers should have been used to segregate pedestrians from the work area around the lamp before the reflector was dismantled.

Mr Parker pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £2,250.00 with costs of £2,888.00. His employer, Volker Highways, was not to blame as they had trained their employee to carry out the work safely.

HSE Inspector, Zameer Bhunnoo said:  “This was a serious incident that needlessly injured a small child and caused her mother understandable distress. “No blame can be attached to Volker Highways as Mr Parker had been properly trained by his employer to carry out this kind of work safely. “Individual
employees must realise that they face criminal prosecution by the HSE if they show a reckless disregard for health and safety, putting others at serious


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