There has been a swift and dramatic rise of massive fines for corporate manslaughter, food safety and hygiene offences, and health and safety offences since the new sentencing guidelines came into force in February. The intention behind these new guidelines is to ensure that the fines have a significant impact on a company’s finances and to act as a sufficient deterrent so companies do not continue such behaviour. In order to mete out these bespoke fines, the Sentencing Council uses comprehensive criteria that weigh a company’s offence against its annual turnover.
From February through the end of September, there have been 222 prosecutions—14 of which had fines of at least £1 million. What’s more, roughly 16 per cent of those 222 offences were for the manufacturing industry, who were the second-highest offending industry behind construction, according to industry research. Understandably, there is a certain degree of risk associated with the work that manufacturing firms handle, which may explain the high amount of fines levied against the sector. In fact, there were 70,000 self-reported non-fatal workplace injuries and 16 deaths reported in 2014-15, according to the HSE.
With potential fines ranging from £50 to as much as £10 million depending on the offence, these statistics illustrate why it is crucial that you take the necessary precautions to ensure that your workers are safe. In order to help your firm strengthen its health and safety procedures, consider implementing the following five practices:
- Review your risk assessment with a health and safety professional to confirm that there are no gaps.
- Provide a comprehensive safe work practices training for your employees. This should be conducted at least annually, or after a health and safety incident.
- Have your employees participate in regular technical and machine operation training to ensure that they can safely use all the equipment and perform all the required tasks.
- Schedule a health and safety consultant to conduct a thorough risk assessment at least annually.
- Give your health and safety manager the opportunity to earn health and safety and risk management accreditations.
For further advice, please speak to your local A-Plan Commercial branch