The Health & Safety Offences Act 2008 came into force in January 2009, and covers Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Act doesn’t impose additional duties upon individuals or businesses, but will increase the penalties for existing offences, and provide courts with greater sentencing powers for those who fail to adhere to health and safety legislation.
How does the Act affect you?
The Act raises the maximum penalties that can be imposed for breaching health and safety legislation, and broadens the range of offences for which an individual can be imprisoned:
- the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts has been increased from £5,000 to £20,000 for most health and safety offences, which should result in a “faster, less costly and more efficient justice” according to DWP Minister Lord McKenzie. There are unlimited fines in the higher courts.
- imprisonment is an option for individuals prosecuted for health and safety offences in both the lower and higher courts: up to 12 months in a Magistrates Court (6 months in Northern Ireland) and 2 years in a Crown Court
- certain offences, which are currently triable only in the lower courts, will be triable in either the lower or higher courts.
Directors and senior managers can currently be convicted if it can be shown that the company failing occurred as a result of their consent, connivance or neglect under Section 37 of the H&S at Work Act 1974. The new Health and Safety Offences Act now provides that a prosecution under this section may attract a jail term.
“Jail sentences for particularly blameworthy health and safety offences committed by individuals can now be imposed reflecting the severity of such crimes” – Lord McKenzie.
As the penalties are higher, businesses and individuals must ensure that risk assessments, safe working practices and training are in place and being followed. Skyguard can help you do this. Just contact us to find out how we can help.