Osborne Clarke and IOSH examine the impact health and safety sentencing guidelines are having on businesses a year on and provide practical guidance

Written on 27 Jan 2017

Ahead of the first anniversary of new guidelines which address how penalties for health and safety, food safety and corporate manslaughter offences should be dealt with by courts, Osborne Clarke partnered with IOSH to make a Freedom of Information Act request examining the impact they were having on businesses and have prepared a report which examine their effect here.

Whilst reporting of fines for offences in this arena exceeding the £1 million mark appears to have become common place in 2016, information obtained through this report provide stark statistics about just how significant the increase in fines has become:

  • Nineteen companies received fines of a million pounds or more in 2016, compared to only three in 2015 and none in 2014.
  • The largest fine in 2016 was two-and-a-half times the size of the largest fine in 2015 and almost ten times larger than the largest fine in 2014.
  • The total income from the highest 20 fines alone in 2016 (£38.58 million) was more than the total fine income for the 660 prosecutions successfully brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in its reporting year of 2015/2016 (£38.3 million).

Whilst businesses may feel concerned about the impact the guidelines could have on them, the most important message this brings home is the need for businesses (particularly senior management and general counsel) is to act now to ensure that health and safety governance and procedures are fit for purpose within the organisation.

Both Osborne Clarke and IOSH provide support to businesses wishing to review their compliance as well as supporting businesses investigated by the HSE, police or other health and safety/ food safety regulatory authorities.

Webinar | Health and Safety Guidelines: A year on

Osborne Clarke partners Mary Lawrence and Katie Vickery explore in more detail how the guidelines work, what impact they have been having on business over the last year and what businesses can do to guard against the legal risks associated with a prosecution.

In addition to UK businesses who may have been familiar with the enforcement regime change previously, investors and business owners from outside the UK investing in UK business may be assisted by this session to consider how they can assess business risk and the impact of failing to comply.

When and where?