Higher fines for health and safety infringements
Posted on 18th Jan, 2016 | By Lorretta Tatham
With much higher health and safety fines coming into force from February 2016, it’s more important than ever to prevent injuries in the workplace. Of course, this responsibility falls on all member of the team – not just the workers. While it’s key that each person on the job is aware of health and safety procedures and how to maintain a safe environment, employers and the wider HR team must also be on board to help create and enforce that safe environment and atmosphere.
For some time there has been concern that penalties imposed for health and safety offences, particularly on large organisations, were too low. What’s more, the approach to sentencing in the courts was also seen to be inconsistent. In response to this concern, the Sentencing Council issued new guidelines in November 2015 to apply to sentencing in all health and safety and corporate manslaughter prosecutions. In turn, this will improve health and safety consistently across all workplaces.
Under current guidelines, fines for health and safety offences resulting in death should not be less than £100,000 and for corporate manslaughter not less than £500,000. Under the new guidelines fines will be calculated depending on the level of harm, culpability, and an organisation’s turnover. This means that for health and safety offences, fines of up to £10 million will be demanded of large organisations (those with a turnover greater than £50 million). For medium-sized organisations, with a turnover between £10 million and £50 million, fines will be up to £4 million. Small organisations and microbusinesses too will have to up their health and safety processes, with the former being fined up to £1.6 million, and the latter up to £450,000 for offences.
One of the determining factors for sentencing is culpability. The Sentencing Council has outlined that culpability ranges from very high – deliberate breach of or flagrant disregard for the law, to low – where an offender did not fall far short of the appropriate standard.
Once the degree of culpability has been determined the court must consider the risk of harm. This involves considering two factors, the seriousness of the harm risked and the likelihood of that harm arising.
Avoid hefty health and safety fines at work
These new fines are likely to seriously damage a business’ finances and reputation, should they breach health and safety laws.
To avoid this we recommend the following:
- Put in place an effective system of risk assessment and risk management in the workplace
- Ensure that health and safety policies are relevant and that all members of staff are aware of them
- Ensure that all operatives are trained to highest standards in the operation of equipment being used.
- Stay up to date with training. It’s worth improving your knowledge of health and safety in the workplace with one of our safety training courses. From Manual Handling Training, to Working at Height Training, and even specialist courses on UKATA Asbestos Awareness, we offer expertise on a wide range of subjects. You can browse the whole range of courses here.
We’ll also be keeping you informed of any major updates and safety tips on our blog.
To find out more about any of our courses, or to book on to one, please call our Course Enquiries team on 01282 615 517.
How are you going to improve health and safety in your workplace this year? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @BrownsLadders