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The shape of future health and safety fines

The £1m fine recently imposed on an SME is a clear signal that the objectives of sentencing for H&S offences must be fulfilled, whatever the size of the business, writes Ruth Sheret

13 June 2016

A seismic increase in fines was expected after new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences came into force on 1 February 2016. However, a more complex landscape is emerging. Fines
of £1m plus are indeed being imposed on large companies, but, equally, we are also seeing surprisingly low penalties.

The very recent £1m fine imposed on Watling Tyre Service Ltd (WTSL) is an indicator that the objectives of sentencing (punishment, deterrence, and the removal of gain through offences) will be achieved in
the application of the new guidelines by the courts.The sentencing guidelines
for health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter,
and food safety and hygiene offences, which apply to organisations and individuals, regardless of the date of the offence, set out nine steps
to be worked through by the sentencing judge.

Practitioners are...

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