New health and safety sentencing regulations just three months away
From February 2016, new sentencing rules will be introduced for breaches of health and safety regulations, with much tougher penalties than previously handed out.
The changes are the most dramatic since 1974, and combine an increase in fines with prison sentences for the worst offences.
The Sentencing Council has increased fines for serious breaches of the regulations, especially for larger companies. The new guidelines for sentencing will apply to individuals, organisations, offences of food safety and hygiene and corporate manslaughter.
A nine step plan has been created, which courts are expected to follow when calculating sentences. The plan has a set of tables that will be used to decide the starting point for fines, by integrating harm and culpability factors into them.
The new regime will create consistency across England and Wales for all those facing sentencing for health and safety offences. The initial draft was published in November last year, and the final edition has just been approved, with very little change from the original version. As the new guidelines will be used for sentencing from 1st February 2016, a number of offences that have already taken place but not yet been sentenced will fall under the new rules.
It is hoped that the changes to sentencing will prevent dangerous practices taking place and reduce the risk of exposure to harm. Employers have a duty of care to workers, which includes the use of PPE and the appliance of specialist workwear.