Health & Safety Fines | Don’t Get Caught Out

health and safety fines

In a busy work environment, health and safety regulations and the fear of fines can easily be overlooked. – particularly in smaller enterprises where owners juggle multiple priorities.

This is particularly the case in smaller enterprises where owners juggle multiple priorities.

So, having WorkNest 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 and Safety Executive (HSE) data shows health and 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); and
  • 2016/17 was £5m (19 fines were £1m plus).

Bigger Companies Face Biggest Increase in Health and Safety Fines

A study has shown larger organisations face the biggest increase in fines for health and safety offences.

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 and safety 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); and
  • Offence’s seriousness (chances and badness of harm)

Under tougher health and 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; and
  • 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 and safety failing that causes injury or puts someone substantially at risk of injury or death.

Health and 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 and safety system, insurance and paying for a designated Health & Safety person.

By contrast, the average sector fine for health and safety offences in 2016 was £115,440.

SMEs investing in health and 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.

Fee for Intervention costs increased

The Health and Safety Executive launched its controversial Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme in 2012. The costs are now at £154 an hour.

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 WorkNest make sure!

Why WorkNest?

With WorkNest’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 and safety specialists will:

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

If you want to reduce the fear of health and safety and increase your compliance, then get in touch today.

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