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Tougher Penalties for Beaching Health & Safety Laws

2015-11-03 11:00:00 +0000 by Gemma Dickinson


Under new sentencing laws announced today, businesses implicated in the most serious corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food hygiene cases will face tougher penalties.

Offences falling under the framework could include a construction company that causes the death of an employee by not providing the proper equipment for working at height, a food outlet that causes an outbreak of E.coli poisoning through unsafe food preparation, a manufacturer that causes injury to a new worker by not providing training for operating machinery or a gas fitter whose sub-standard work leads to the risk of an explosion in someone's home.

The Sentencing Council said it does not anticipate an increase in penalties across the board, but higher fines are possible in some cases - particularly those involving large organisations found to have committed serious offences.

While prison sentences are available for individuals convicted of very serious offences, most offences are committed by organisations and therefore fines are the only sentence that can be given.

"The increase in penalties for serious offending has been introduced because in the past, some offenders did not receive fines that properly reflected the crimes they committed." said a spokesperson from the Sentancing Council.

An offending firm's turnover will be used as a starting point for the size of the fine.

Offences can attract an unlimited fine but the expected range of penalties depending on culpability, harm and turnover are: £50 to £10million for health and safety breaches, £180,000 to £20million for corporate manslaughter and £100 to £3million for food safety and hygiene offences.

Sentencing Council member Michael Caplan QC said: "These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk.

"These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these."

The new laws will come into practice on 1st February 2016

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