Health and safety an emerging threat to companies’ bottom line, says study
According to data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the number of senior managers and company directors prosecuted has trebled during the last year.
The data revealed that during the year ending March 2016, there were 46 company directors and senior managers prosecuted by HSE for breaching health and safety. According to data obtained by the law firm Clyde & Co, this is an enormous increase on the number of prosecutions the year before, which was 15. Many of the cases reported involved the construction industry, while others involved the death of a worker or serious injury.
The UK head of safety, health and environment for Clyde & Co, Chris Morrison, said the increased number of prosecutions by HSE at senior level presents a real problem for companies. Those businesses that have a turnover between £10m and £50m are experiencing the biggest impact, spending more of their turnover on payment of fines than other business groups.
Of the 46 cases last year, 34 were found to be guilty, with 12 resulting in prison sentences. The HSE stated that this year's figures were in stark contrast to the incredibly low number the previous year. However, the number was still the highest in the last five years.
New tougher legislation was introduced in February this year, which means that larger fines can be handed out. One of the heftiest fines this year was for Merlin Entertainments following the rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers. Being fined large amounts may encourage senior managers and directors to introduce the correct safety procedures, which includes the use of PPE and provision of training.