Some recent research should focus the health and safety minds of the more senior individuals within organisations.
Statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicate that the number of workplace fatalities has increased from 133 to 142 in the past year. Further research by Cerico, an online compliance company, has shown that the number of prosecutions brought for serious wrongdoing has more than doubled in the last three years.
The data found that the number of criminal prosecutions brought by the division of the HSE responsible for the most complex cases rose from 24 in 2012 to 52 in 2015. The ‘Safety and Health Practitioner’ magazine research also highlighted that the use of Publicity Orders, which require businesses to publicise the penalties they receive, has doubled in the past 12 months.
Under current rules a breach of health and safety law is a criminal offence, punishable in the case of an organisation by a fine. Company directors found guilty of consent, connivance or neglect relating to incidents are liable for an unlimited fine and prison sentences of up to two years. Currently, where the offence involves a fatality, fines on an organisation of more than £100,000 are becoming more common with larger companies expecting to pay more than £1m. Under new guidance, breaches could result in fines of up to £20m.
Organisations are now under increasing pressure to ensure that their compliance processes are in order and ensure that they have access to competent health and safety advice to ensure they meet the standards expected.
This provides some food for thought for company directors and those with responsibility for health and safety as they may wish to review (and update if necessary) some of their practices in light of this recent data.