Fines on the rise after introduction of tougher sentencing guidelines

The total sum for fines imposed for health and safety breaches in 2016-17 rose to £54 million compared to the £37 million paid out in 2015-16. The average fine a company can now expect to receive has also increased, trebling to almost £281,000 in 2016-17 up from just over £90,600 the year before.

The inflated figures coincide with new sentencing guidelines introduced in February 2016. Judges are now able to impose unlimited fines on companies found in breach of health and safety regulations. Crucially, evidence of an accident is not required for a company to be found guilty – the mere presence of risk is enough for huge financial penalties to be levied.

It didn’t take long for a company to feel the full force of the new guidelines. In the same month, the revised legislation was launched, energy giant ConocoPhillips (UK) Limited was hit with a £3 million sanction following a series of health and safety breaches.

The company suffered a leak on an offshore gas collection site. Although nobody was actually injured as a result of the breaches, the sentencing judge commented that the risk of death or serious injury would have been extremely high had there been a gas ignition.

Many companies have since fallen foul of the new sentencing guidelines, with judges showing no hesitancy when it comes to exercising the extra power they now wield.

If you are in any way unsure about your health and safety responsibilities, now more than ever, it is better to be safe than sorry. As your partner in safety, Sphere can provide you with expert guidance and support for as little as £85 a month. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

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