Health & Safety Fines

Health & Safety fines are increasing, are you prepared?

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In a busy work environment, Health & Safety regulations can easily be overlooked – particularly in smaller enterprises where owners juggle multiple priorities.

So, having Ellis Whittam make sure you’re complying with them is vital – especially as you otherwise risk an increasingly costly breach Health & Safety fine – the resulting negative publicity can also damage your reputation beyond repair! 

Steep Rise in Health & Safety Fines

Health & Safety Executive (HSE) data shows Health & Safety fine totals rising:

  • from £18m in 2014/15
  • to £38.8m in 2015/16 (115.5% hike)
  • to £69.9m in 2016/17 (80% increase)

The biggest fine in:

  • 2014/15 was £750k (only five were at or above £500k)
  • 2016/17 was £5m (19 fines were £1m plus)

Why have Fines Increased?

The level of fines being handed out is said to reflect a growing desire for organisations to answer for any shortcomings that lead to injury, illness and death.

It is felt Health & Safety compliance isn’t being taken seriously enough. Stiffer penalties are therefore meant to deter lawbreaking and make employers take greater care. 

Tougher sentencing guidelines were introduced in February 2016. In the year following their introduction:

  • the 20 largest fines accounted for £30.7m of the £69.9m total
  • thirty-eight cases received fines of over £500k
  • the average fine per conviction increased to £126k (from £58k in 2015/16 and £29k in 2014/15)

Fines are now based on an organisation’s turnover. Courts also consider the:

  • ‘culpability’ (degree of fault)
  • offence’s seriousness (chances and badness of harm)

Under tougher Health & Safety offence guidelines:

  • bigger organisations with a turnover of more than £50m now face fines of up to £10m
  • medium-sized organisations with £10m-50m turnover face up to £4m in fines
  • small organisations with £2m-10m turnover face up to £1.6m in fines
  • micro-businesses with less than £2m turnover face up to £450k in fines

Not all large fines involve a fatality.

Indeed, the guidelines say a large financial penalty can be given for a Health & Safety failing that causes injury or puts someone substantially at risk of injury or death.

Health & Safety Fines vs. Cost of Compliance 

HSE research shows that the cost of being compliant pales in comparison to the fines given to firms.

A  small to medium-sized organisations, complying with Health & Safety regulations, can expect to pay between £6k to £40k

This cost typically includes maintaining a formal Health & Safety system, insurance and paying for a designated Health & Safety person.

By contrast, the average sector fine for Health & Safety offences in 2016 was £115,440.

SMEs investing in Health & Safety may therefore potentially avoid a fine that’s £109k to £75k higher than their compliance costs.

Non-compliance is even costlier than the figures suggest as Health & Safety failures rarely simply involve a fine – offences are usually reported locally and sometimes feature nationally.

Get Specialist Help

The sharp increase in fines shows just how determined courts are to get the message across that Health & Safety cannot be ignored in the workplace.

Its therefore never been more important that you comply with Health & Safety law. Safety procedures and practices should be regularly reviewed to make sure they’re in keeping with the regulations.

But if you’re unsure, then let Ellis Whittam make sure!

Why Ellis Whittam?

With Ellis Whittam’s support by your side, you can be confident that you are being compliant. And with compliance comes a reduced fear of health and safety fines.

Our Health & Safety specialists will:

  • Act as your legally required ‘Competent Person’
  • Draft a bespoke General Risk Assessment
  • Write you a Health & Safety policy
  • Answer any queries you have along the way.

If you want to reduce the fear of Health & Safety and increase your compliance, then get in touch today.

Let's start talking on 0345 226 8393

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