An Update on Health & Safety Offences Fines 2019

What has been happening on health and safety fines? You may know that in 2016, the sentencing council introduced new guidelines for courts, which had a radical effect on increasing fines for health and safety offenses for corporate organisations. The overall fines have gone up 18% in the last year and the average fine has increased by 34%.

Many organisations don’t realise how vulnerable they are to these sorts of incredibly high penalties. You don’t need to be operating a high risk organisation. You don’t need even to have a serious incident. All you need is to have a situation where you’re shown putting people at risk.

So for example your Legionella controls are not right and it has the potential for killing people. The fine levels for large organisations are now incredibly substantial. We’re talking about fines in the range of £2.4 to £10 million for serious health and safety offenses for large organisations, with a starting of £4 million. For corporate manslaughter offenses, we’re talking about a range which runs up to £20 million with a starting point of £7.6 million.

We’re starting to see now coming through the courts really significant fines like the care organisation that has a Legionella incident, which was fined £3 million. Recently a cargo company operating a rail yard had had lots of warnings about this rail yard being insecure, as child trespassers had been coming to the rail yard. It has even been featured in the risk assessment of their need to secure it and they haven’t taken the right action. Two boys, 11 and 13 years old, came into the rail yard. They climbed on some rail tracks. One of them made contact with a 25,000-volt cable and sustained horrific injuries. His friend was burned as well.

Following the incident, the company was fined £2.7 million with £188,000 costs. And of course there will be a large compensation claim behind that as well. This would be insured against, but many directors don’t realise that the fine will not be insured. You cannot insure for a criminal fine.

A fine like this would be a direct hit on the company. In addition there is all the bad publicity the company will receive and that fact that this will be on the conscience of the directors for many years to come. It really emphasised the importance of organisations being robust, taking advice, following through that advice and avoiding most of the tragedies.

For more information on avoiding fines for health and safety offences, please contact Quadriga on 0118 929 9920 or click here to email us.

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