New Sentencing Guidelines for Health & Safety Offences

February 15, 2016   //   No Comments

In a recent issue of SAIFinsight, Simon Bloxham, Health & Safety Strategist at Safety for Business, examined penalties for offences including corporate manslaughter and hygiene breaches.

The Independent Sentencing Council for England and Wales has published guidelines aiming to ensure a consistent, proportionate approach to sentencing those convicted of corporate manslaughter, health and safety offences as well as food safety and hygiene offences.  The guidelines, which apply to both organisations and individuals, came into force in the courts on 1st February 2016.

While prison sentences are available for individuals convicted of very serious offences, most offences are committed by organisations and, therefore, fines are the only sentence that can be given.  The court must consider whether the evidence shows that the organisation failed to comply with any health and safety legislation which relates to the alleged breach and, if so, how serious that failure was and how much of a risk of death it posed.

Main offences include:

■ Breach of duty of care by the employer to an employee.

■ Breach of health and safety regulations.

The following points may comprise a sensible strategy in order to defend against claims and to deter others:

■ Be proactive on health and safety.

■ Keep records and make sure they are up to date and retrievable.

■ Be scrupulous on recruitment and ensure that having a positive attitude to health and safety is a criterion for the job.

■ Include health and safety as a personal performance appraisal issue.

■ Use discipline where necessary for breaches of health and safety procedures and protocols.

■ Train staff, especially managers (including senior managers).

Help is at hand! As a member of SAIF:

You can talk to a safety professional at Safety For Business free of charge simply by calling 08456 344164. You are also entitled to a discount on our fees when we help you with your health and safety needs.  We can visit you to see how you are doing when it comes to compliance. This is free of charge, apart from travel costs. So what do you have to lose?