High Court ruling in Buncefield case

Published:  22 June, 2009



The rules, which were introduced in January 2009, mean that the sanctions for breaches of health and safety law are now much more stringent and include imprisonment for individuals in many more circumstances. Commenting on the implications for a company director facing a Buncefield scenario in 2009, Richard Bretton partner and health & safety legal expert at law firm Osborne Clarke said:
"The inadequate practices and risk assessments put in place by Total underline the importance of compliance with the new Health and Safety legislation.

"This explosion starkly emphasises the need for directors to be alert to the ramifications of unsafe work practices and procedures for training new staff.
"Taken in the context of the new Health & Safety rules, failings may result not only in a catastrophic event like Buncefield, but also vast compensation claims, unwelcome reputational damage, stiff criminal fines linked to turnover (not profit) and the possibility of directors and senior managers being locked up.

"Given these new and increased risks, the imperatives of trading safely are obvious to all."

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