Tougher Penalties for Health and Safety Breaches

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The Sentencing Council has released new sentencing laws for Health and Safety offences. The new guidelines, which were published this month, are set to be implemented from 1st February 2016. They aim to improve consistency in sentencing across England and Wales and are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the means of offenders.

Those involved in the most serious forms of:

  •  - Health and safety offences (for both organisations and individuals)
  •  - Food hygiene offences (for both organisations and individuals)
  •  - Corporate manslaughter

Will be subject to tough new sentencing measures. The new guidelines will mainly effect high level offences as low level offence sentencing is less likely to change. The initiative intends to reduce the number of cases in the long term.

What are the updates?

The new sentencing landscape will enforce different sentencing strategies, these include:

  •  - Looking at culpability and likelihood of harm
  •  - Shifting from outcome based sentencing to risk based sentencing
  •  - Looking at the defendants financial means

The previous sentencing guidelines allowed serious offenders to slip through the system and avoid serious penalties. This was because they weren’t judged on the severity of the incident, meaning some organisations escaped heavy penalisations.

Now, once the new regime is in place, magistrates will be better placed to bring serious offenders to justice, and offer greater leniency towards those who have committed only minor offences.

As a result we may see in most cases heavier fines for organisations or individuals found guilty of serious health and safety breaches.  Also as the likelihood of imprisonment is highered, there should be an increase in prison sentences being levelled against offenders. However, those will be applied only in cases were the individuals are personally responsible for acts of serious corporate misconduct.

The council has said that fines need to be enough to have real economic impact “which will bring home to the offending organisation the importance of achieving a safe environment for those affected by its activities.”

Michael Caplan QC, honourable member of the Sentencing Council, said that these guidelines will be “ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk”.

What can YOU do?

As a business, to avoid all possible prosecution and any chance of being directly affected by the new guidelines, you should have a robust health and safety management system in place that both protects your employees and the public from injury.

A few tips on how to comply with health and safety in the work place made simple:

  1. 1. Decide who will help you with your duties, provide them with appropriate training and appoint them as a Competent person
  2. 2. Write a health and safety policy for your business.
  3. 3. Control the risks in your business by conducting a risk assessment and implementing appropriate controls.
  4. 4. Consult your employees on health and safety.
  5. 5. Provide training and information were necessary.
  6. 6. Provide a safe workplace with adequate welfare facilities.
  7. 7. Have an accident book and first aid arrangements in your workplace.
  8. 8. Report and keep record of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease.
  9. 9. Display a health and safety information poster.
  10. 10. Get public liability insurance for your business

 

For more information and to get expert advice on how to comply with health & safety, fire safety and food hygiene regulations, please contact Food Alert at enquiries@foodalert.com or 020 7244 1900.

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Author: Fanny

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