Useful Advice to Prevent H&S Fines
by Charles Willis
With large fines coming into force from February 2016, a clear message has been sent to businesses about the importance of health and safety in the workplace – emphasised by a £10m figure for fines relating to the most serious offences.
The new legislation – part of the Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences Definitive Guideline – comes as a result of concerns that penalties imposed for health and safety offences were set too low previously and sentencing was frequently inconsistent.
The Extent Of 2016’s Health And Safety Fines
For large organisations who have neglected health and safety practice for too long, the vast range of sentencing might leave them quacking in their shoes.
Previously, instances of health and safety breaches would see a company fined anywhere between £100,000 to £500,000 but moving forward in 2016 fines of up to £10m have been projected for large companies, £4m for medium sized organisations, and £1.6m for SMEs. When it comes to corporate manslaughter the figures rise even higher, with penalties of up to £20m levied on large organisation depending on level of fault and level of harm caused as a result.
Ensuring Your Health And Safety Practice Is Bulletproof
Ideally these practices should already be in place, but with the new guidelines coming into practice in mere months it doesn’t hurt to check and make sure your health and safety policy is compliant:
- Have an effective risk assessment and risk management system in place to identify hazards and offer solutions
- Make sure your health and safety policies are relevant to your business and that they are accurately communicated and enforced
- If your business is multi-site, ensure the health and safety policy is consistent across all areas
- Lead by example and take the time to support and understand everyone in the business’s responsibility when it comes to health and safety i
n the workplace
Your Level Of Responsibility
Under the new guidelines, a company’s level of responsibility ranges from high – where there has been a deliberate breach of the law – to low where the offence didn’t fall short of the standards set. In this regard, it should be reiterated that health and safety is breached simply from the creation of risk rather than injury caused by it. As a result, the new legislation should be a timely reminder that all organisations should strive for the highest standards of health and safety in the workplace.
Author: Charles Willis is a freelance Health and Safety Consultant, advising and commenting on a number of issues around the industry
Do you have new Health & Safety guidance to share?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org