Health and safety fines double in a year

By Gem Childe on 7th Aug 2017

The value of fines collected for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act has more than doubled in a year, according to research from the global law firm Clyde & Co.

Data obtained from the Health and Safety Executive and more than 300 local authorities shows that the total value of fines collected from businesses increased to £76.7m in the first year of new sentencing guidelines, up from £36.2m in the previous 12 months.

The new guidance, introduced in February, toughened penalties for health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences. Under the new approach, the scale of fines varies according to the turnover of the company but can exceed £20m for the very worst cases involving corporate manslaughter, and potentially more for the largest companies.

The amount collected in fines by the HSE increased by 74 per cent during the first year of the new sentencing guideline, to £61.6m. Fines collected by local authorities showed an even greater increase of 1,870 per cent, rising from £0.8m to £15.2m in 12 months.

The HSE has enforcement oversight of higher risk sectors including construction and manufacturing, while local authorities are responsible for the enforcement of lower risk sectors, such as retail, leisure, hospitality, care, catering, warehousing and office space.

Rhian Greaves, head of compliance & strategic support in Clyde & Co's Safety, Health & Environment team, said: "Thanks to the new sentencing guidelines health & safety is now a top priority for the boardroom. Our research confirms what we have been seeing in practice - the new sentencing guidelines are biting hard."