As of the 13th November 2014 new guidelines have been published by The Sentencing Council, proposing a new way to sentence health and safety offences . This potentially means an increased need for more effective risk management. One thing for certain, however, is that Airsweb and The Sentencing Council both have the interests and safety of the workforce and the public in mind.
These recent guidelines have now been released into the public space for consultation. The new guidelines will affect a range of people from small family businesses to large scale, multinational organisations. It has also been noted to cover charities, as well as statutory bodies. In short, offenders could be any business or director of a business putting the lives of the public or workers in danger.
These new proposed guidelines have come about after concerns were raised over the detail within the current guidelines. It was said that there was a "lack of comprehensive guidance " as well as vague limits set for fines. Fatalities were particularly noted as areas where sentencing guidelines are unclear.
In 2013/2014, 133 fatal injuries were reported as a result of a workplace incident . This equates to 0.44 fatalities per 100 000 workers, a decrease on the 2012/2013 report of 0.51 per 100 000 people. Excluding railway incidents, 70 members of the public were fatality injured in 2013/2014 connecting to workplace occurrences. Given the infrequent nature of these events, sentencing of fatalities was previously inconsistent and unknown territory for those handing out sentences.
What is the Sentencing Council?
The Sentencing Council develops and issues guidelines on sentencing to aid the courts. After releasing guidelines, they assess the impact both on victims and offenders. This enables them to adapt to suit the public’s best interests and the interests of justice.
The Sentencing Council has no legislative powers and therefore must comply with legal limits for sentencing.
Guidelines have now been proposed, outlining how fines should be administered, proportionate to the health and safety crime. The consequences that can occur due to failures in health and safety range massively, from minor injury to fatalities. It is for this reason that extensive and clear guidelines are needed in particular for the serious health and safety offences.
Offences relating to food hygiene are also wide ranging, from poor management to failures in hygiene standards. For the first time, comprehensive guidelines relating to food safety have been included.
The proposed guidelines will ensure that sentences are now proportionally based on the level of the crime, the seriousness of the offence and the financial situation of the offending organisation.
Within the presentation of the guidelines it must be stated that The Sentencing Council strongly believes in using tougher sentences to deter future health and safety failures and encourage organisations, companies and businesses to ensure the protection of both their workers and the public.
Key takeaways from new guidelines:
- Sentencing for fatalities will be clearly defined
- A fine of £20 million could be enforced on offending large organisations as a result of corporate manslaughter 
- Fatalities relating to public health and safety could result in fines of up to £10 million 
- Sentencing for lower level offences may not be effected
- The financial circumstances of the offender must be assessed
- These fines are not only to compensate victims, but to prevent future incidents
Risk Management Software - 'Maximise Compliance, Minimise Risk'
When talking about ensuring the safety of the workplace, this is where Airsweb’s risk management software comes into play. This structured approach to managing risk assessment means that organisations can have a much clearer view of the risks in the workplace and therefore find solutions much more effectively.
To find out more about not only avoiding sentencing fines, but most importantly ensuring the safety of your workforce and members of the public, visit our risk assessment software page here. Our risk assessment management solutions could be the quality answer to your risk assessment needs, as it continues to be for many companies we have helped. To talk to us about your needs as a company and how we can tailor our solutions to suit you, call us on 0151 289 6811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.