Blackpool FC fined £8000 for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice

In February 2009, environmental health officers (EHOs) from Blackpool Council carried out a routine safety inspection at the football club’s Bloomfield Road stadium. The council discovered the club had failed to carry out a risk assessment, or create a written health and safety policy, to cover non-match days.

The club was issued an Improvement Notice on 3 March and given 21 days to undertake a sufficient risk assessment, and create a written safety policy. During this period, the council supplied the club with advice and HSE guidance to help it meet the requirements. On 1 April, EHOs revisited the ground and discovered that no steps had been taken to adhere to the Notice.

Blackpool FC appeared before the town’s magistrates on 18 September and pleaded guilty to two breaches of s33(1)(g) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £4000 for each offence and ordered to pay £500 in costs.

In mitigation, the club said its safety officer had left work in March after being diagnosed with throat cancer. It had not appointed a replacement to work on non-match days, and had assumed its match-day safety policy was sufficient. It has now employed a safety officer and is in the process of completing the required safety documentation.

Blackpool Council senior public protection officer, Gareth Shaw, told SHP: “It is extremely disappointing that such a large company failed to carry out the mere basic requirements of a health and safety system.

“We gave the football club lots of guidance and every chance to resolve these issues, in order to avoid this case going to court. Unfortunately, these chances were not taken and we had no choice but to prosecute.”