Beefed up sentencing regime doubles health and safety fines

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Jul 31, 2017
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Fines involving construction companies accounted for about a fifth of the £73.2 million total

Rui Vieira/PA

Fines imposed on employers for breaches of health and safety rules have doubled since a tougher sentencing regime was introduced last year, figures released today reveal.

The total value of fines collected from businesses in the 12 months after the beefed up sentences came into effect in February 2016 increased to £73.2 million. That was up from £35.4 million for the previous 12 months.

Reformed sentencing policy increased penalties for health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences. Under the new policy the scale of fines varies according to the turnover of the company but can exceed £20 million in the worst cases involving corporate manslaughter.

Local authorities were even harder hit by the beefed up regime. Total fines collected in the 12 months from February last year rose to £15.2 million from £800,000 in the previous year. 

The manufacturing and construction industries were fined the most since the tougher sentencing policy was implemented.

The figures, which were obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by the City of London law firm Clyde & Co, show that manufacturing paid the most fines for health and safety failings – a total of £22.8 million in the year since the regime was toughened, up from £11.4 million in the previous year.

The highest fine in the sector was a £3 million penalty for Cristal Pigment after two separate incidents in which toxic gas clouds were released. In total, manufacturing businesses paid 31 per cent of the overall total collected by the HSE.

After manufacturing came construction, which overall paid £13 million of fines over the last year compared with £7 million in the previous year. Fines involving construction businesses accounted for about a fifth of the total collected over the last year. Balfour Beatty was hit by the biggest penalty, having been ordered to pay a one-off fine of £2.6 million.

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