Average Health & Safety fines double in year

Average Health & Safety fines double in year

Enforcement figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show the significant impact of February 2016’s sentencing guidelines.

HSE statistics show total fines increased 80% in the year following the guidelines’ introduction from £38.8 million in 2015/16 to £69.9 million in 2016/17.

In 2016/17, the first full year the new tougher sentencing guidelines for Health & Safety offences were in place:

  • the average fine increased to £126,000 – more than double the average fine in 2015/16
  • the 20 largest fines accounted for £30.7m of the £69.9m total
  • 38 organisations received fines over £500,000
  • the single largest and record fine to date was £5m
  • 11,913 enforcement notices were issued – a 5% increase compared with the year before when 11,380 were served

In contrast, the largest fine in 2014/15 was £750,000 and only five fines were at or above £500,000.

The 2016 guidelines also resulted in the number of custodial sentences being given to individuals increasing by 2%.


Manufacturing saw fines doubling from £12.5m to £25.1m between 2015/16 and 2016/17. This was despite the number of convicted cases falling 32% from 210 to 159 during the period.

Agriculture was the only industry where total fines were lower in 2016/17 compared to 2014/15. They fell 13% from £823,900 to £712,700.

Tougher penalties

Under the 2016 guidelines, fines for Health & Safety offences are largely based on the offending organisation’s ‘culpability’ (degree of fault) and turnover.

Organisations with a ‘very high’ culpability and turnover of more than £50m face potential fines of up to £10m.

Further information on enforcement in 2016/17 is available from the HSE.

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