If you have not reviewed your company’s Health and Safety policy recently you may wish to do so before the likely introduction of the new sentencing guidelines this Autumn. The Sentencing Council published its draft proposals for new sentencing guidelines in health and safety offences last November and the consultation ended on 8th February 2015. The guidelines are being introduced due to a lack of comprehensive guidance for those passing sentence in relation to health and safety related offences. For the first time the guidelines include individuals, not just organisations and this is not the only change on the horizon.

Key points

• Fines will be related to the turnover (not profit) of the organisation

• For the first time the guidelines apply to individuals

• A significant increase in fines for organisations and individuals

• Proportionately SME’s will incur the largest fines

• The guidelines will apply to general duty offences (s2 and s3 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974) and any offences that contravene any health and safety regulations. Also covered will be secondary liability for certain offences, or those committed with consent, connivance of, or neglect.

The aim of the above is to help ensure sentences punish the offender and deter them and others from committing health and safety breaches. Fines should be large enough to deter businesses who save money at the expense of safety and who undercut organisations that maintain an efficient standard of safety for their staff members.

Sentencing Council member Michael Caplan QC said: “We want to ensure that these crimes don’t pay. They can have extremely serious consequences and businesses that put people at risk by flouting their responsibilities are undercutting those that maintain proper standards and do their best to keep people safe.”

“Our proposals will help ensure a consistent approach to sentencing, allowing fair and proportionate sentences across the board, with some of the most serious offenders facing tougher penalties.”*

Next steps

• Ensure your current Health and Safety policy is up to date

• Check staff members and contract workers are aware of your company’s Health and Safety policy

• Regularly audit the current systems in place

• Keep accurate records

Do you know how closely you are adhering to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974? If your adherence levels are good, they will provide the grounds on which a solicitor can defend you or your business. Far from being a burden, an effective Health and Safety Policy will compliment a successful company strategy.

To arrange a review of your Health and Safety policy, please contact miles@milesvartan.co.uk or call 01473 276175 or 07879 695077.