Changes to the sentencing guidelines for Health and Safety offences are imminent. From February next year new guidelines will come into that will propel the fines for such offences upwards. And upwards doesn’t really cover it. The increases will be exponential and will potentially jeopardise the continued operation of some businesses.
Admittedly that is the frightening headline however there will continue to be a consideration of the particular circumstances of the offence and the financial position of the organisation. There will now though be a clear expectation of what a company should be fined.
The size of the company is the first consideration are you “micro” (turnover up to £2m), “small” (£2-10m), “medium” (£10-50m) or “large” (over £50m).
Once this has been determined then the level of culpability is considered. There are 4 categories from very low (where the offence was one of an inadequacy within an well managed system) to very high (where the was a deliberate flagrant disregard of the Law).
Harm is the next consideration. Did the offence result in a death or life changing event? Or was it at the other end of the scale?
Once all this is put together a range of fines emerges on a scale never before seen.
- Micro businesses £50 to £450,000
- Small businesses £100 t0 £1,600,000
- Medium businesses £1000 to £4,000,000
- Large businesses £3000 to £10,000,000
If you are larger than large there is this ominous quote in the guidelines;
“Where an offending organisation’s turnover or equivalent very greatly exceeds the threshold for large organisations, it may be necessary to move outside the suggested range to achieve a proportionate sentence.”
Essentially if you are very large we can do what we want.
The threshold for imposing a custodial sentence on an individual has also been significantly reduced. Corporate Manslaughter fines have also been included, the range is £180,000 – £20,000,000.
It is vital that you know whether you are compliant. When did you ask have an inspection of any sort from HSE or other independent auditor? Not only do you have to be wary of the new sentencing guidelines but HSE Fee for intervention can be huge cost in addition.
Please get in touch if I can assist you in any way. It is too late when things have gone wrong.
For an industry view I’ve included a link below from SHP Magazine.