Sentencing for Health and Safety Offences for Small Businesses

For small businesses with a turnover in the range of £2-10 million which commit Health and Safety offences, new guidelines (brought in on 1 February 2016) suggest the starting point of a fine of £450,000 up to £1.6 million.

For a company with a £2-3 million turnover, a £450,000 fine could make the difference between collapse and survival. Many small organizations don’t realize that they will not be insured for these types of fines. It is against public policy to allow the provision of such insurance and businesses could be fined on the basis of the potential for the problem, rather than actual injury or accident.

An example of this could be a small contracting company that puts up scaffolding, or has a contract to put up scaffolding on a client’s site. If the scaffolding is defective and falls down, even if no-one is injured, the company is still held guilty of an offence for not having a secure scaffolding. The potential is there for killing people and in those circumstances, the court could regard that as a very serious offence, requiring a very high penalty even if no-one is injured.

If you run a small business and want to avoid potential crippling fines, you need to be fully aware of your Health and Safety obligations. For specific advice on your business, contact Quadriga on 0118 929 9920 or click here to email us.

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