The number of Company Directors prosecuted for health & safety offences was three times higher in the 12 months to April 2016 than in the previous 12, according to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 46 Company Directors were prosecuted by the HSE in the 12 months to 31st March 2016. Around three-quarters (34) of the 46 people prosecuted were found guilty and this resulted in 12 prison sentences, the longest of which was 2 years.
While the majority of Director prosecutions relate to small and medium-sized businesses due to there typically being some form of proximity or nexus with the Director, the new game-changing sentencing guideline for health & safety breaches with turnover-related fines has created a new set of worries for Directors of all-sized businesses.
After decades of relatively stable and predictable fines, the tide is now rising rapidly as the new guideline is applied by the criminal court. The worrying thing for Company Directors is that fines are now hitting the £1 million mark for non-fatal offences and even those where nobody has been injured, meaning that any breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act is now potentially a serious threat to a Company’s bottom line