Do Not ‘Turn A Blind Eye’ To The New Health And Safety Sentencing Guidelines
On a daily basis we are seeing a clear shift in punishment apportioned for breaches of health and safety legislation as a direct result of the new sentencing guidelines.
On 1 February 2016, the new sentencing guidelines were launched in the United Kingdom for those who commit health and safety offences. They direct the courts to follow a structured approach, examining culpability, the seriousness of harm imposed and the likelihood of harm. There are various levels which reflect the scale within each category.
Of great significance to employers is that the process thereafter matches the results against turnover.
Results Against Turnover
This ‘results against turnover’ approach is in order to set a starting point for a fine that is intended “to bring the message home to the directors and shareholders of offending organisations”, as stated by the Judge in the environmental prosecution of Thames Water.
Additionally, guidelines of a similar nature are applied when sentencing individuals for health and safety offences, predominantly intended to focus on the risk of a custodial sentence for those found guilty of serious breaches. More specifically, individuals can be liable for Health and Safety offences under sections 7 and 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Section 7 applies to employees and Section 37 applies specifically to directors, company secretaries and senior management officers.
Recent Examples of Cases
- Construction company fined £267,000 after worker fell 6 meters – Click here for more
- Council fined £250,000 for not protecting workers health – Click here for more
Other Example in Brief
5th December 2016: Volvo fined £900,000.00 plus costs
The national truck, bus and plant division of Volvo has been fined £900,000 after one of their workers fell and suffered head injuries whilst servicing a truck.
5th December 2016: Birkenhead shipbuilder fined £400,000.00 plus costs
A 59 year old worker from Ellesmere Port suffered fractures and crush injuries to his right hand in the incident, which occurred on the 20 July 2015, which resulted in his being off work for 5 months.
5th December 2016: Farmer gets 12 month prison sentence plus costs
A farmer based near Bradford on Avon, has received a suspended prison sentence and substantial fines after two members of the public were attacked and injured, one fatally, by cows in a field.
Need Our Help
In the light of this trend if you would like to discuss your training needs with our health and safety experts then please get in touch today. You can either book on our training courses or if you need a review of your policies and procedures we can help.
If you would like your own copy of the sentencing guidelines click here.