UNITED KINGDOM: Unscrupulous employers facing tougher health and safety penalties

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justiceGBA report published by the Department for Work and Pensions reviews the application of new rules introduced in 2008, by virtue of the law on breaches of health and safety regulations. 

The report shows that:

  • a greater proportion of cases (86%) were heard in court after the Act came into force (compared with 70% before then);
  • the average fine imposed by the courts involving breaches of health and safety regulations alone increased by 60%, from £4,577 to £7,310;
  • for cases involving breaches of both health and safety regulations and the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) the average increase was 25%, from £13,334 to £16,730;
  • 346 cases attracted fines of more than £5,000 – which prior to the Act was the maximum fine that could be imposed.

The purpose of the Act was to increase the maximum penalties for workplace health and safety offences heard in court, as a deterrent to would-be offenders.


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