Health and Safety fines in the UK are on the up, to more than double the value of fines collected in 2016.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 was introduced so that companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care. Changes to this act in 2016 have resulted in companies paying almost double in fines.
The new sentencing guidelines which were brought in on 1st February 2016 have toughened penalties. Research carried out by Clyde & Co showed the total value of fines increased to £73.2m in the first year (at 31/01/2017). This is an increase of £37.8m. Figures were taken from the HSE and 300+ local authorities directly.
Balfour Beatty have been fined £2.6 million after an employee died after a trench he was working in collapsed. Martinisation London Limited were fined £1.2m for each death following an accident at height which cost two employees their lives. The company was fined an additional £650,000 for breaches of Health and Safety Regulations, while their director received a prison sentence.
The new guidelines mean fines are proportionate to the size of your company. They also relate to the severity of the incident. Uncapped, fines can now be more than £20 million and may come with prison sentences for the person deemed responsible.
Business gurus are advising directors to take action early by reviewing safety processes and protecting employees before an accident occurs. The HSE’s regulations state that as an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.
You could appoint (one or a combination of):
- one or more of your workers
- someone from outside your business
Chris Ivey, Health and Safety Director at health and safety specialist consultancy THSP says “The last 12 months have clearly shown the impact from the Sentencing Council Guidelines. Courts must now decide whether an employer has exposed persons to risk of harm and not just if that harm has occurred. Courts are also looking at the level of complicity and the ability of organisation to pay a fine. In other words the more dangerous, the less care and control, the more money you have the greater the fine will be.“
For more information about the changes, and how the increase to fines might affect your business, visit The Sentencing Council website.