Last year saw several household names including Aldi, Wilko, Travis Perkins, JD Sports and Warburtons (amongst others) facing severe penalties for Health & Safety failings as the new sentencing guidelines begin to bite.
Lauren Appleby (SHP) has compiled a really interesting summary of the key cases of 2017 in which we can see the true impact of the new sentencing guidelines as the first full year of them being in effect draws to a close. Click here for full summary.
In short, it is clear that individuals are now being held to account and are under much more scrutiny than before the guidelines. There have been far more custodial sentences served to company directors, as well as heavier fines which are determined by the financial records of the company (the bigger the company, the bigger the fine for like for like offences) as well as the degree of harm and culpability.
Under the new guidelines, courts are also starting to issue larger fines for companies who have exposed workers or others to serious health and safety risks even in cases where no accident has occurred.
Clearly, now more than ever It is absolutely imperative that business owners are aware of their legal responsibilities and duty of care. Each business should have a programme of rolling health and safety reviews in place, looking to constantly improve provisions wherever possible.
On a more positive note, there are distinct benefits, aside from the obvious, when a company manages its health and safety risks well. Businesses who demonstrate a genuine commitment to health, safety and the wellbeing of their staff are likely to find themselves better placed to attract and retain talent. They are also likely to fare better in bids and tender processes as well as scoring extra points when seeking external investment.
IOSH and Osborne Clarke have produced an in depth exploration of the impact of the new sentencing guidelines a year on. Click here to see the results of the collaboration.