Medium-sized UK manufacturing firms warned of health and safety fine risks

1 min read

Medium-sized manufacturers have been warned of the significant fine risks they may face on the first anniversary of the Health and Safety sentencing guidelines this month.

There have been a number of sanctions and fines for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act etc (1974) since the guidelines were introduced a year ago, according to specialist health and safety consultancy, Southalls, and international law firm, Gowling WLG.

They warned that is has now become commonplace to see fines of more than £1 million for non-fatal cases, which previously would have been dealt with in a magistrates’ court.

Andrew Litchfield, partner at Gowling WLG, said: “A major factor in the size of these sentences is the turnover of the defendant organisation. What we’re seeing currently is a disproportionate effect on medium sized organisations, rather than those with a turnover of excess of £50m for example.

“For very large organisations the sentencing guidelines do not include sentencing tables, and we have yet to see commensurate fines for the largest businesses.

Litchfield added: “The purpose of the sentencing is to remind offending business owners and shareholders that they simply cannot break health and safety legislation – it’s got to hurt, that’s the point of the sentence. It is our belief that it is only a matter of time before we see fines in excess of £10m.”

A video explaining the impact of the new sentencing guidelines on the first anniversary can be viewed below.

The Impact of the Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines 1 Year On from Southalls on Vimeo.