Regulatory Timeline: Health and Safety

Written on 7 Oct 2015

“The focus on reducing ‘ill-health’ within the workplace is high up on the HSE’s agenda. As an area that many organisations have previously shied away from, the initiative is bringing about new challenges, especially in identifying and effectively managing the issues involved.

Over the next six months, we anticipate that the HSE will start actively to enforce the new CDM Regulations and await the introduction of the new sentencing guidelines for breaches of health and safety and/or corporate manslaughter in early 2016.” 

1 October 2015 – Deregulation Act 2015

The Deregulation Act came into force on 26 March 2015. However, the modifications to the general duties of self-employed persons come into effect as of 1 October 2015. From this date, those that are self employed, who do not employee others and whose work activity poses no potential risk to the health and safety of other workers/members of the public, are exempt from the general duties of health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It is expected that the exemption will apply to limited groups, such as novelists, journalists, accountants, on-line traders, graphic designers etc.

6 October 2015 – Construction (Design and Management) Regualtions 2015

From 7 October 2015, all sections of the new CDM Regulations will apply. In addition to the measures already in force, all on-going construction projects must now have an appointed principal designer to replace the CDM co-ordinator role. There is still no indication that the HSE intends to produce more detailed guidance on the applicaion of the new Regulations.

Jan/Feb 2016 – New sentencing guidelines for Health and Safety, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety/Hygiene offences

The Sentencing Council has indicated that the new sentencing guidelines will be published in November 2015, with an anticipated implementation date of Jan/Feb 2016. The new guidelines encourage courts to link the level of fine directly to an organisation’s turnover. This approach is set to see the level of fines increase dramatically, especially for larger organisations, where fines in the millions of pounds are set to become the norm.
Similar guidelines were introduced for environmental offences last year and the Court of Appeal recently confirmed its robust position on the appropriate level of fines – In R v Thames Water Utilities Co, the Court stated that for larger organisations and in the most serious of cases fines could be in excess of £100m and for less serious offences a fine must be measured in the millions of pounds. There is no doubt that health and safety and corporate manslaughter cases are set to mirror this approach. 

2015/2016 HSE Strategy on workplace ill-health 

The HSE is continuing to focus on and undertake proactive inspections in relation to key health risks, including:

  • respirable diseases;
  • musculoskeletal diseases;
  • workplace cancers; and
  • stress 

This is a key area the HSE is looking to tackle over the next year as part of its on-going strategy to improve health and safety within the workplace. As such, and to avoid scrutiny from the HSE, businesses should be looking to review their own policies on ill-health and whether it is being adequately managed.

January 2016 – Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 

In May 2015, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was charged with the offence of corporate manslaughter, with the trial listed for January 2016. The Trust has approximately 4,750 full time staff with the Trust Board having statutory responsibility for the Trust. If the case goes to trial this could be the first prosecution of a large organisation to test properly the provisions of this Act.