New guidelines proposed for courts could mean fines of up to £10 million for the most serious health and safety offences and of more than £20 million for organisations convicted of corporate manslaughter.
The Sentencing Council’s consultation draft, issued today, includes guidance for all health and safety offences, not just those involving fatalities as previously, and links fines to corporate turnover as well as the seriousness of the offence.
Proposed guidelines include a range of tariffs for companies with differing annual turnover, modified by the seriousness of the offence and the level of organisational culpability.
For a corporate manslaughter example, a medium sized company with a turnover of between £10 million and £50 million could expect a fine with a “starting point” of £3 million for the most serious offence, ranging up to £7.5 million while the starting point for a less serious offence would be £2 million ranging up to £5 million. The current guidance sets a benchmark of fines up to £500,000.
Very large companies, with turnovers substantially higher than £50 million, could see fines in excess of £20 million, the guideline proposes.
For offences prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act or other safety regulations, there is a more complex schedule, but a medium sized company with “medium culpability” for a serious incident would face a fine in the range £300,000 to £1.3 million.