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Companies that breach safety laws will be hit with hefty fines following the introduction of new sentencing guidelines.

Published 04 November 2015

The financial penalties for employers convicted for health and safety, food safety and food hygiene offences will be significantly increased.

Offences covered by the guidelines are varied and could include a building firm that causes the death of an employee by not providing the proper equipment for working at height, a restaurant that causes an outbreak of e. coli poisoning through unsafe food preparation, a manufacturer that causes injury to a new worker by not providing training for operating machinery or a gas fitter whose sub-standard work leads to the risk of an explosion in someone’s home.

Large companies convicted of corporate manslaughter will face fines of up to £20m under the new rules. The turnover of the business will be taken into consideration when determining the starting point for the fine along with the seriousness of the offence. Prison sentences will be imposed for those convicted of very serious offences.

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive reveal that 142 people were killed at work in 2014 – 2015, and 102 members of the public died as a result of accidents connected to work.

Employers are legally responsible for health and safety management and have a duty to protect employees and other people who may be affected by their business, and must do what is feasible to achieve this.

Regardless of the size of the organisation, risks in the workplace should be assessed to address any potential hazards. This information should be provided to employees, who should be instructed and trained on how to deal with those risks.

The new guidelines unveiled by the Sentencing Council will come into force in courts on 1 February, 2016.

The rules for judges in England and Wales are being toughened to help deliver greater consistency in sentencing for serious offences that come before the courts, and because it is believed that current penalties are not severe enough to act as a deterrent.

Note

This is the link to the press release from the Sentencing Council in relation to the new guidelines

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/news/item/new-sentencing-guidelines-introduced-for-corporate-manslaughter-health-and-safety-and-food-safety/

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