New Sentencing Guidance for Breaches of Health and Safety Law

February 2016

New sentencing guidelines for Health and Safety, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety Offences

The Sentencing Council, part of the Ministry of Justice, has produced new definitive guidelines on sentencing for Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences. These new guidelines came into effect on February 1st, and have drastically increased the size of fines and custodial sentences that the courts can levy.

Who do the new rules apply to?

The guidelines for health and safety breaches apply to individuals and employers, as well as the self-employed who are found guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and also apply to companies who are convicted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

What are the key factors?

Under the new guidelines the Courts will consider:

  • whether the breach was deliberate or simply an honest mistake
  • how much harm or damage was done
  • how many people were exposed to the hazard created
  • the business’s financial condition

Keeping it as simple as possible, the more people that were exposed to harm, the greater the fine. Additionally, if it is found that the hazard was created by a deliberate action not to put a safeguard in place, the greater the fine or even the likelihood of a custodial sentence. Finally, the level of the fine will depend on the size and turnover of the business as well as the remuneration taken by the directors.

What should you do?

Having up to date Health and Safety Policies and good working practices is the way to avoid these costly fines. Simply Docs Health and Safety Policies are professionally written to help you create and manage the safety culture in your business.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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