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The role of tech in protecting MDs from non-compliance prosecutions

Managing a highways company means taking on significant risk as well as responsibility.

The role of tech in protecting MDs from non-compliance prosecutions

Each year the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launches hundreds of prosecutions against firms for health and safety legislation. The latest figures for 2019/2020 show a 95% conviction rate with £35.8 million fines, averaging £110,000 per case.

Whenever a company is prosecuted there’s always the chance that individuals will also face legal action for a breach of the employer’s duty of care responsibilities. It’s a risk that technology can help to mitigate.

What does the law say about legal responsibility?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the responsibility for safety falls on the company rather than individual directors. But when an offence is deemed to be with the ‘consent or connivance’ of an individual, that person is liable to be prosecuted under section 37 of the 1974 act.

Consent means that a person knew about particular issues and connivance means that they failed to do anything about them. This results in a breach of their duty of care as an employer.

What are the potential punishments?

If prosecuted and found guilty, a Managing Director can be imprisoned for up to two years and fined an unlimited amount. While imprisonment is rare, fines of up to £20,000 are common.


Individuals can also be disqualified from being company directors for up to 15 years. The combination of a loss of employment and fines can result in the person facing personal bankruptcy.

How does HSE determine who to prosecute?

When the HSE investigates a breach, it looks closely at the management chain in place and the roles of those responsible for safety before determining whether an individual should be prosecuted alongside the company.

While knowing about a problem and doing nothing about it is one reason to prosecute a person, ignorance can also be determined as a duty of care breach. Managing Directors need to show that they have a management structure in place that allows them to identify and tackle potential risks.

Individual prosecutions are unlikely to occur if an adequate safety management system is operating and directors have not blatantly disregarded issues or failed to tackle obvious risks.

How can technology help reduce the risks?

Technology can help mitigate risks by improving the way that safety protocols within a highways business are implemented, tracked and enforced. A cloud-based system such as MyMobileWorkers helps to achieve this with a fully digital process:

  • Integrated workflow: All of the necessary safety checks and tasks are built into the workflow of a road crew and delivered in real-time by the mobile app. Task-specific policy reminders, notifications and confirmations help ensure that working safely and compliantly.

  • Digital tracking: Each H&S task, check and confirmation across a workforce is automatically logged and time-stamped, creating a digital safety trail. The system can also require photographs to be submitted to show adherence to relevant Chapter 8 regulations.

  • Enforced processes: Safety processes can be enforced, preventing workers from continuing with a task until they have completed a check or submitted a digital photograph. It makes identifying safety issues an active rather than a reactive process.

By combining these elements a highways company can maintain and monitor safety procedures in a much more effective way than is possible using a traditional management approach. While issues and accidents can still occur, it helps a company to demonstrate that robust protocols were in work was being done safely and compliantly.

Download our guide to road worker safety

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