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Criminal Prosecutions for Health and Safety Failings on the Rise

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Criminal Prosecutions for Health and Safety Failings on the Rise

A recent study by Cerico found that workplace deaths have risen by almost 7%, from 133 to 142, over the last year.

Whilst this is a very concerning statistic, the study also found that in the last 3 years, the number of criminal prosecutions for serious breaches of health and safety law has risen by more than 100%, from 24 in 2012/2013 to 52 in 2014/2015.

So it appears the Health and Safety Executive is stepping up to the mark and enforcing stricter penalties on those responsible.

Current Penalties

Many people don’t realise that a breach of health and safety is actually a criminal offence with criminal sanctions, and not simply a matter for the civil courts.

Under the current structure, a breach of health and safety law by a business is punishable with a fine. If the breach results in a death, this fine can be as much as £100,000 right up to £500,000, and if the business has a large turnover, it can be fined over £1,000,000.

Alongside this, company directors can be held personally responsible if their negligence, consent or connivance contributed to the breach. They can be sentenced to up to 2 years imprisonment as well as an unlimited fine.

Tougher Sentences

Next year, there are plans to introduce tougher sentencing guidelines for corporate manslaughter and criminal health and safety failings, which will determine higher financial penalties for businesses that could reach over £20,000,000.

Publicity Orders have already doubled in use over the last year, forcing businesses to publicly announce their criminal prosecutions for failing to protect their staff, so if the new penalty proposals are accepted, businesses can expect substantial damage to their finances, as well as their reputation.

This is a sure sign that attitudes towards business owners, directors and CEOs is changing, and that they will not escape lightly if their failings or negligence result in the death of a worker.

Health and Safety Ltd

Here at Health and Safety Ltd, we specialise in assisting businesses in establishing an effective and legally compliant health and safety policy.

Our training courses cover a range of subjects, from operator training for specific equipment, such as forklift training and cherry picker training, to more general courses, tailored to meet the needs of each business, including risk assessment training, first aid training and fire safety and awareness training.

We’ll ensure you have the resources to establish safe working practices and operate within health and safety law. Get in touch today to find out more.

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