It has been just over a year since the Sentencing Council's Guideline on Health and Safety Offences (the Guidelines) came into force. Since then, there have been dramatic increases in the level of fines awarded. In 2014/2015 the total fines awarded amounted to £18.1 million, compared to £38.3 million in fines in 2015/2016.
One illustration of the change in fine levels can be seen in two fines issued to Wilko a year apart. In January 2016, just before the Guidelines came into force, Wilko was sentenced for a fatal accident involving a fork-lift truck driver, and received a fine of £200,000. In February 2017, Wilko was sentenced for a serious injury suffered by an employee and received a fine of £2.2 million.
Health and safety workshop, 8 March 2017
The conviction rate for health and safety offences across the UK when a prosecution is brought is 96 per cent, demonstrating the need for good compliance systems and early intervention when something does go wrong.